Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Peter MacKay  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) create an offence that prohibits purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose;

(b) create an offence that prohibits receiving a material benefit that derived from the commission of an offence referred to in paragraph (a);

(c) create an offence that prohibits the advertisement of sexual services offered for sale and to authorize the courts to order the seizure of materials containing such advertisements and their removal from the Internet;

(d) modernize the offence that prohibits the procurement of persons for the purpose of prostitution;

(e) create an offence that prohibits communicating — for the purpose of selling sexual services — in a public place, or in any place open to public view, that is or is next to a school ground, playground or daycare centre;

(f) ensure consistency between prostitution offences and the existing human trafficking offences; and

(g) specify that, for the purposes of certain offences, a weapon includes any thing used, designed to be use or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will.

The enactment also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 6, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Sept. 29, 2014 Passed That Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
Sept. 29, 2014 Failed That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the long title.
Sept. 25, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
June 16, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
June 12, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I rise today, I am pleased to say that we are in third reading on Bill C-36, one of the most important bills this country has ever had in this Parliament. I will tell you why. It is because so many innocent victims are being lured into the sex trade under human trafficking. We have numerous cases all across this country.

Last Christmas, Canadians got a Christmas present. While they were busy packaging their presents, while they were busy doing things around the house, getting ready for Christmas preparations, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed all the laws around prostitution unconstitutional.

What happened after that? One wise thing the Supreme Court did was to give the government a year, until December 20 this year, to respond to that proclamation. Having done that, our government has put together Bill C-36. It is the first of its kind that Canada has ever seen. For the first time in Canadian history, those who buy sex will be brought to justice. It will be against the law to do that.

Second, the thing that is so unique about Bill C-36 is that there is help for the victims of human trafficking. Many in this Parliament do not understand human trafficking. They talk about prostitutes, the rights of others to set up shop and control a bunch of women, and young men now, in Canada, control and force them into the sex trade. It is the most devious, under-the-surface kind of crime that people now, finally, are starting to understand.

In this country right now it has been accepted that the buying of sex is just fine, because that is what women do. However, women do not want to service up to 40 men a night. Women do not want to be coerced into the sex trade. Women do not want to give their money to people who beat them if they do not. This is not what women want.

What women want in this country is to be safe. They want to be able to grow up. They want to be able to have a life they can be proud of, and grow and prosper like anybody else.

In this House, I have heard so many speeches, but what I need to tell my colleagues is that Bill C-36 has to be supported. It has to be supported because all of Canada is watching what is going on in this country right now. All of Canada, Canadians all across this country, have sent numerous emails to me, numerous petitions, numerous postcards, and what they have said is that they want their children to be safe. The majority of trafficked victims are underage, and we are finding that now. We know that now.

If members put human trafficking in a Google search, they would see how many human trafficking cases have come to the forefront, from coast to coast to coast across this country.

I have to tell my colleagues in the House what I have done with all those petitions, all those postcards and all those emails. I have categorized them. I know every single part of what is happening in this country, because of all the compilation we have done over 10 years. I know what the people are saying in each of the constituencies across this country.

I am going to be making sure that trafficked victims and their parents are very well aware in every constituency of what all the parliamentarians are saying and doing as far as it relates to Bill C-36.

There is no reason now to do archaic thinking. There is no reason now to say, “I am confused.” Quite frankly, that is a very stupid comment. It does not matter who they are or on what side of the House, right now, in this country, Bill C-36 is a bill that parliamentarians from all sides of the House should embrace.

As I said, for the first time in Canadian history, the buying of sex will be illegal. For the first time in Canadian history, there is significant money being put in to help the victims of human trafficking. For the first time in Canadian history, the advertising of sex, those big ads for fresh Asian girls, any size, any age, anything people want, will be illegal. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is not the girls putting that kind of advertisement in the newspaper. It is predators who are making between $260,000 to $280,000 per year, per victim.

In this Parliament, a mom, who members would know but I cannot name right now, came to see me because her 16-year-old daughter was trafficked. When I met her, she was a typical staffer, a typical person, well-dressed, well-educated, well-respected. She sat on my couch in my office with tears rolling down her face when she said, “Why don't the parliamentarians in this country stand up for the victims of human trafficking?”

I have heard some of the speeches in the House. They are all in Hansard and everyone knows what members are saying. Parliamentarians ought to know more than the average citizen about human trafficking. It is the right of every single young person to be safe in this country. I heard a speech the other day by a member who talked about how we are taking away the rights of a person to set up a brothel. Basically what the member said was that it is a woman's right to exploit other women. Meanwhile right in her riding there is a trafficking ring going through to the U.S. It has not hit the papers yet, but it will.

However, I am going to take that speech and I will personally put my feet in that constituency and get the parents and the trafficked victims together and tell them what their MP said and ask them what they think about that.

In Parliament it seems that all of us think that we are wonderful, learned people. We are here for one thing. We are here to serve the people of Canada. We are here to listen to what is going on in our country and everyone here knows about human trafficking. Some members on all sides of the House have really taken up the torch. There are members from the NDP, the Liberals and from our side who have taken up the torch. Unfortunately, many members and leaders have suppressed the voices of members who want to support Bill C-36.

Today is the last time I will have a chance to speak to the bill. Over summer, we came to Parliament to sit on the justice committee and we brought in the most dynamic people, the survivors. I say survivors, not victims, because these victims now have a voice. They have become the survivors and they are listening to everything that is happening in Parliament. Members should choose their words carefully and choose their vote carefully because their voices will go across. The voices of parents, grandparents, victims and organizations that take care of victims, my dear colleagues, are far stronger than anyone else who has a vested interest.

When we hear people saying this is a right to legalize prostitution; it is an industry. Members should shake their heads. It is not an industry and it is not what the elected people in this Parliament of Canada should be professing. They should not do that. If they dare to do it, I promise I am going to make sure I will go to every city, every town, every constituency and I will let their constituents know. They can decide whether they want to elect them to the Parliament of Canada with that kind of attitude.

We have to do something in this Parliament to suppress the human trafficking that is happening across this country.

All we have to do is talk about the victims. All we have to do is talk about what happens to them. Predators come on as the victim's friend to get their confidence and lure them. It can even be a family member. It can be a friend. It can be a woman. It is not just men.

I had one case very recently where a boyfriend said to this young girl, “We'll get married. I love you”. He was her knight in shining armour. What she did not know was that behind the scenes he was part of a little gang that were targeting young girls, getting their confidence, taking away all their support systems through their families, their schools, their churches, all their supports, my beloved colleagues, and he sold her. She serviced up to 40 men a night before we got her out of that ring.

This is something we cannot be silent about. This kind of crime has been below the radar screen for so many years here in Canada. Everybody talks about every other country but Canada. In Canada, predators are making between $250,000 to $280,000 a year off their victims. That is tax-free money. That is why they do it. Mostly, it is because they follow the cash.

Unfortunately, in this country, we have had films like Pretty Woman. We have had films glorifying prostitution. It is not prostitution; it is human trafficking. This is where people do not have a choice, where they are being targeted and are mostly underage victims. What happens is that these victims just give up after a while. They get post-traumatic stress. They sort of look to their predators because that is where they get their one meal a day. That is where they have some semblance of security. This is how they look at it. It is a very sick kind of crime in our nation.

If we look at the trafficking cases in Vancouver Island, the Nanaimo newspaper and the people who work with the trafficking victims say that this ring has been undisturbed for years. We know that.

In Ottawa, 10 minutes from Parliament Hill, we have had trafficking cases.

What is happening in this country, now, is that police officers are beginning to become schooled in human trafficking. Some police officers who used to think it was just part of a daily occurrence that they did not need to pay attention to, are starting to understand now that behind those young women and young boys on the street is a very sad story where they are being brutalized on a daily basis and huge money is being made off them.

In the country right now “herds of girls”, as they call them, are actually tattooed by the person who owns them.

Years ago, long before the Speaker and I came to Parliament, Wilberforce said that once you know, “you can never again say you did not know”. The other part of that is: what are you going to do about it?

Every parliamentarian in this Parliament knows that human trafficking is happening. Every parliamentarian knows that it is basically our young people. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing. This is about representing our constituencies so that our children, our young people, are safe and they are not targeted, because this trafficking has grown to epidemic proportions at this point in time.

We had a nanny in Ottawa who was caught up in human trafficking. They are people who are often in a position of trust, a position where they can have access.

It happens everywhere. It happens in our communities, in our schools, in our churches—everywhere—and the victims have been silent. They are silent no longer, and they will not be silent during the next election, no matter what happens on any side of the House.

Bill C-36 is one of the most important bills we have ever put through Parliament. It makes a statement about our country. When the bill goes through, parliamentarians, on all sides of this House, can say that we will not allow our children to be bought and sold in this country.

When one talks about the pornography and everything around human trafficking, that is a conditioning of a society. A 10-year-old boy wrote to me about being addicted to porn. I was interviewed at the National Post, and the next day the National Post stated that this parliamentarian did not know a 10-year-old who was addicted to porn. The parents read this and called the National Post, and said, “We're the parents. I'll tell you about what happened”.

They came to visit me in Ottawa. I met the little boy, and we found out that a whole school division, and other school divisions all across this country, had porn popping up on their computers. It was not because they wanted it, but because the system is set up in a way that porn inadvertently pops up at random. It has happened on everybody's computer. It is a type of conditioning, a type of acceptance.

We should not accept, in any way, shape, or form, the exploitation of our youth. We should not do that. However, let us be careful. The world is watching what we are doing as parliamentarians here in the Parliament of Canada, on all sides of the House. They all know. It is not a partisan thing.

We have talked about human trafficking, and I have to commend you, Mr. Speaker. You are a man of great honour and you have given much support for this human trafficking. You stood by me a long time ago, when I first introduced Bill C-268. I honour the set of standards you have for what you feel is good for Canada.

There are people on all sides of the House who have done that, but there are too many today who are resisting Bill C-36 and are making statements in this Parliament that they will live to regret.

I have been in Montreal a great deal. I have worked with the head of the vice squad there, Dominic Monchamp. I have worked with and rescued victims of trafficking around that area. I do not speak French. Two of my children speak French very well. I wish I did. I try. I love French. However, I have not had the time to speak it eloquently, like most of the people do here. However, I have done a lot of work, and it does not matter what language we have, people know. Some of the most courageous people have come from Montreal, in terms of the human trafficking initiative. They are amazing people. I want each parliamentarian here to be able to leave this place knowing that their lives made a difference in the life of someone who has no voice.

I look forward to the speeches, and I would implore members to get behind Bill C-36. It is the right thing to do. If they have anything to say, they will hear it again in the subsequent months. I will ensure that happens in each constituency that each one of us lives in.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her work on human trafficking. I encourage her to visit my riding. I could translate what she is saying because most people in my riding speak French. As an MP, I spend time with my constituents to make sure I am on the right track.

I have a few questions for my colleague opposite. She began her speech by saying that, for the first time in Canadian history, it will be against the law to buy sexual services. First, I would like her to tell me what is meant by sexual services, since no one—not the minister nor the committee members—will tell me. Second, how does the member explain the fact that her government refused to also make the sale of sexual services illegal?

There is a dichotomy in the Conservative rhetoric. Even my colleague from Ahuntsic, who was probably one of the biggest Conservative government supporters when it came to Bill C-36, said that she could not support the bill after the committee had finished its work. She introduced an amendment to make prostitution completely illegal because that is what this government wanted to do.

How does the member explain this dichotomy? In this context, why object to removing the criminal records of the victims, the survivors of prostitution?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple. People are now discovering that when people in prostitution rings get arrested—I call them the victims—they are revictimized.

I will take the member to the case of Samantha. She was trafficked by her boyfriend and was arrested and re-arrested. In fact, statistics tell us that 60% of the women are arrested, as opposed to the johns who actually purchase sex, because the law has not passed yet. She was revictimized. She had two children at home. It did her no good.

Through Bill C-36, as it is right now, she would be counselled. She would be helped out of that dilemma, which is like a black hole in which the women lose everything. They lose their dignity, their confidence. They lose everything. That is why we should not be arresting the victims.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member that all members of the House are opposed to human trafficking, the exploitation of any Canadian, the exploitation of women. We are all pro-victim. We are not anti-victim, as the government likes to say.

The member alleged that an opposition member of Parliament in the House, who holds a different opinion from the member on some of this legislation, has a human trafficking ring in her riding, that I believe the member said is funnelling women to the U.S. She has alleged this. She also said that she intended, once this became public, to go to the member's riding to seek political advantage against the member as a result of this human trafficking ring that she alleges is occurring.

I would urge the member, if she is aware of this kind of criminal activity in anyone's riding, to report it to the police. I would urge that she approach the member to whom she referred to discuss this issue in a constructive way. If she cares about victims, which I am certain she does based on her long-standing work in the House on this issue, she should not try to seek political advantage on the backs of victims in this case. That is what she said in her own words that she intended to do. I would suggest that she try to help with the situation and work with the other members of the House, as opposed to trying to seize political advantage in some member's riding.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have to say categorically that it is the member opposite who is trying to twist the words. I know of many cases of human trafficking, and I have worked with the police. Nothing can be said publicly until they have all of the evidence and it comes to fruition.

When I came to Parliament, in 2004, we did not hear about human trafficking. Now we have cases all over the place. How does that happen? I heard a very good comment from the member on TV last night, and I admired him. He was admonishing a reporter who made an inappropriate comment. The member mentioned that he had twin daughters. I think we are all victim oriented, in a way, but we have to put our feet to the ground and support Bill C-36. Everyone will know the outcome of what every parliamentarian says about this bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to my colleague, the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I have a great deal of respect for her because she is a passionate woman who tells it like it is. Because of her, I discovered something that I did not believe existed in Canada and that is modern slavery or human trafficking.

Perhaps the hon. member does not speak French, but a few years ago, she went to Quebec to speak out against human trafficking and make Quebeckers aware of this issue. I had an opportunity to be there with her. Today, I am very proud of that because I have seen her introduce a number of bills that would punish those who victimize the most vulnerable members of our society. Because of that, I have great respect for my colleague. What she is doing goes beyond party lines and has great historical significance for our country.

I had the opportunity to meet with groups that help victims of prostitution. I heard some heart-wrenching stories from young aboriginal people. Unfortunately, this is happening on our streets. That is why it is important to develop strategies to help victims of prostitution and human trafficking, who are exploited and stripped of their dignity. They need help breaking the cycle of dependence and constant violation of their dignity.

My question is very simple. Governments may put measures in place and organizations may be there to help, but as long as society feels it is acceptable to exploit people by choosing to ignore these issues, there will be a problem. This is then my question:

Does the member believe we can bring about a change of mentality, a paradigm shift, to raise awareness and make it criminal? It would be criminal to buy sex in this country, if this law is adopted. However, socially it is totally unacceptable to purchase sex from victims of exploitation. How does she feel with respect to that? As a society, we were successful at making impaired driving socially unacceptable. Can we do something about the purchasers of sex who are luring young victims?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to my colleague who has been supportive of this issue. Parliamentarians must take leadership in making this socially unacceptable. I will help any member on any side of the House who has it in their heart to support Bill C-36 for the good of Canada and the good of our children.

We have to stop being partisan. There are good people on all sides of this House. This bill is very important. We cannot mess around with it. I am paying attention and will move forward if I see other things happening. I know the victims. I know the police officers who work with them. I know the families who have to endure the aftermath of human trafficking. Parliamentarians on all sides of this House can rise up, in a non-partisan manner, to stop this terrible crime.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the debate surrounding Bill C-36 is really not that simple. Nevertheless, we can and should make it simpler, by focusing carefully. With that in mind, I would like to start by making certain things very clear.

Bill C-36 does not address the issue of human trafficking. The Bedford decision, handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada in December 2013, focused on three specific provisions of the Criminal Code, namely sections 210, 212 and 213. Those three sections of the Criminal Code are found in part VII, titled “Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting”. Human trafficking is not even covered in part VIII, titled “Offences Against the Person and Reputation”.

I wholeheartedly agree with the member for Kildonan—St. Paul when it comes to the issues regarding sexual exploitation and human trafficking. I even supported legislation in this area when it was being studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, since I was actually a member of that committee.

However, it is important to not confuse the issue. Yes, people—especially people who want to abolish prostitution in Canada—sometimes call on us to prohibit the purchase of such services. There is a certain logic behind that. I see where the government is headed. However, it is also important that they stop trying to fool us and stop pretending that they are fixing every problem on the planet. The government is following a certain logic by saying that if we prevent the sale of such services by making it an offence, then there will be no sexual exploitation or prostitution.

I would like to come back to the Bedford decision, which is important, because the Conservatives are claiming that Bill C-36 responds to the concerns raised in that case. Bill C-36 is an act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The Bedford case was about three prostitutes, or former prostitutes, who argued that the three provisions I mentioned earlier should be struck down. Those provisions were in part VII of the Criminal Code, under “Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting”, which criminalizes various prostitution-related activities.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the three prostitutes, or former prostitutes, were seeking a ruling declaring that three Criminal Code provisions—provisions that criminalize various prostitution-related activities—infringe on the rights guaranteed under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 210 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to keep a common bawdy-house or being found in one. Section 212(1)(j) makes it an offence to live wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person. Finally, section 213(1)(c) makes it an offence to communicate in public for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

The three people involved argued that these restrictions on prostitution put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk by preventing them from implementing certain safety measures that could protect them from violence, including hiring security guards or screening potential clients.

They also alleged that section 213 (1)(c) infringes on the freedom of expression guaranteed under section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that none of the provisions are saved under section 1. They won. The Supreme Court ruled in their favour.

Do not think that the Canadian government sat back and did nothing. It was quite the case and it took more than a year to hear it, present it, prove it, and so on and so forth. There was social evidence to consider.

The Supreme Court focused specifically on the subjects in question. At the end of the day, it found that the act of driving this activity underground put the lives of these people at risk. All those who support Bill C-36 call these people victims. In this context, the risk could not be justified by the clauses in question. The Supreme Court therefore decided to strike them down.

The Supreme Court found that this compromised the right guaranteed under section 7 of the charter. The court ruled that the restrictions increased all the risks to which the claimants expose themselves when they engage in prostitution, an activity that in and of itself is legal.

My heart ached when I heard the stories shared by some victims of human trafficking, which is covered by section 279 and subsequent sections in the Criminal Code. Police officers came to testify in committee and I asked them questions. Absolutely nothing prevented them from conducting the necessary investigations, finding the traffickers, arresting them and prosecuting them to the full extent of the Criminal Code. If we need longer sentences for human trafficking, then that is something to work on. In fact, that is being done with some of the bills introduced by the member opposite, which I fully support. That is the real problem.

Street prostitution, which is what we are discussing, perhaps started with human trafficking. We need to give resources to police officers. Instead, the government is choosing to lecture everyone. It is making cuts to police forces and border services, and it is asking the various police forces to reduce their budget, but this comes at a high cost to our country. The government is not making any sense.

All of the police officers told me that the tools were there. The only tool they thought they could use was the power to give an exemption. That is what they do. We cannot be blind or stupid here. They stopped short of saying what constitutes prostitution as a whole. Even I do not know what it means. Are we talking about the sale of sexual services? Is it the act itself? Does it include escort agencies? Strip clubs? I have so many questions that they did not want to answer.

I heard the member opposite say that she took note of what we were saying. I am taking note of what the government is or is not doing. I am taking note of the fact that statistics were hidden from us for months. The government did not want to tell us what Canadians thought about this issue, even though Canadians themselves paid for the survey. I am taking note of the fact that, according to the minister, a consultation was conducted on the Internet. However, we do not know how many people responded. A hundred? Two hundred? I am also taking note of the fact that most of the people the minister had more personal consultations with felt the same way he did.

That is understandable; however, we are talking about the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and an unequivocal decision by the Supreme Court that clearly explains the situation and what it entails. Parliament was not given carte blanche and told that it had a year to introduce Bill C-36 or the court would do it for us.

That is not at all what the Supreme Court said. The court stated that the government had a year to introduce a bill, if it so wished, but that the bill must comply with the decision that was handed down. In other words, if the life of even one person were endangered, that would be enough to conclude that the proposed provisions are illegal.

Numerous experts told us that there was a problem. The minister himself came to tell us that he expected his bill would be brought before the Supreme Court. I have lost count of the number of times I asked the minister if it would not make more sense to refer Bill C-36 to the Supreme Court. Given what even the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul said, we cannot risk making a mistake and then realizing, a few years down the road, that we have created a quagmire.

The Manitoba minister came to tell us that he would not enforce the legislation this way. We create laws, but it is the provinces and territories and the police that then enforce them. How will they do that?

A whole variety of people came to talk to us. There were members of feminist groups and police officers. They came from all walks of life. Their problems are different, and that is understandable. Time and again we heard about the Nordic model, and I thought it would be discussed here. I think that most of the groups I spoke to before Bill C-36 was introduced expected that the Nordic model would be proposed. Many think that it is the solution to the issue of prostitution and that it has an impact on human trafficking.

I want to believe that. That is what everyone was telling us. It was unanimous. However, we cannot forget that the government is aiming to completely eradicate prostitution one day. While I hope that does happen, I also wish the government good luck. If that is what the government wants to do, I would suggest that it put its money where its mouth is.

In other words, the government is going to have to put some money toward this because it has been proven, even by those who support Bill C-36, that there are two main reasons why people enter this profession. I agree with my colleague that more than three-quarters of these people, the vast majority, do not enter it willingly and do not really consent to it. The two main problems are poverty and drug addiction.

It is inconceivable that a person starving on the streets is going to jump for joy and say she is getting out of prostitution because of Bill C-36. She is not going to do that. She will not even know that the bill exists. Only the Conservatives believe that a criminal commits a crime with the Criminal Code close at hand. For goodness' sake, that is not what happens.

I am saying that the Conservatives do not have the courage of their convictions. I would like to trust them, but they voted against an amendment that would have made all prostitution illegal and a criminal offence. I told my colleague from Ahuntsic that she was wasting her time because they really do not believe in it.

The Conservatives want to pass moral judgment on consenting people. Even my colleague opposite said that a small percentage of people are in the profession voluntarily. She and I may have difficulty understanding this—in fact we may not understand it at all—but if there is consent, it is none of our business.

However, we have put these people at risk. There could be court challenges to Bill C-36. We proposed more than a dozen serious amendments to improve this bill. We constantly heard the word “victim”.

The Conservatives are smart; I will give them that. They realized that they cannot criminalize victims, since one cannot be both a criminal and a victim at the same time.

I therefore introduced an amendment that I thought made sense, based on the premise that all these individuals are victims, and that was to have all their criminal records erased. A victim should not have a criminal record for something she did while she was being victimized.

However, when the time came to walk the walk, the Conservatives voted against it. When you believe in what you are doing and you really want to eliminate prostitution, you do not vote against an amendment that calls on the minister, who is proposing a tiny investment of $20 million over five years, to report back to the House.

The Manitoba justice minister told us in committee that that was peanuts for his province. It is not enough to get people out of poverty and give them any hope of getting out of that despicable human trafficking situation.

Nor is it enough to solve the problems of substance abuse. The vast majority of people working in this industry, including aboriginal women, are not there because they want to be. Those issues need to be resolved.

For anyone who believed in the Nordic model, an expert from Sweden appeared before the committee and said that that model could not be implemented without a huge financial investment. Opinions varied widely on that. This is not the easiest file I have ever had to deal with as the justice critic for the official opposition. Everyone, however, whether they were for or against Bill C-36, said that $20 million was a ridiculously low amount.

This makes me wonder whether the government truly believes in what it is doing. The Conservatives' speeches on Bill C-36, which is supposed to be the response to Bedford, are not the legal speeches they should be. Our Conservative colleagues are not talking about the fact that under Bedford, the Criminal Code sections in question will be declared completely unconstitutional in December.

These are awful, heartbreaking stories of human trafficking. It is a scourge around the world. My colleague across the way is going on a crusade, but that is okay. I will open the doors to Gatineau for her. I talked to the people of Gatineau about this. When people find out that Criminal Code provisions on sexual exploitation, including section 279 of the Criminal Code, exist without Bill C-36, that changes things.

We do not want to put the lives of sex trade workers at risk. Everyone sees eye to eye on that, and I doubt the Conservatives are any different. If someone says it is not serious, then I have a problem with that. We have to be realistic and logical and strengthen the laws, as my colleague across the way has done with a number of bills that address human trafficking. That is what we have to focus on.

We must also give our police officers the tools they need. Do we want them to arrest the woman on Murray Street in Ottawa? Do we want them to investigate the cases my colleague mentioned without naming the riding? I hope it is not my riding. It was as though she was telling us in a roundabout way to be careful what we say.

I am speaking off the cuff, like it or not, but I am weighing my words carefully. This comes from the heart, with great feeling. I worked for months on this file while trying to remain as neutral as possible. There were good arguments on both sides. Feminist groups were saying that prostitution should not be criminalized under any circumstances because it is a form of exploitation. Other groups, such as Maggie's, Stella, the Pivot Legal Society and POWER, told me that many women are in positions of control in this industry and that this was a choice they had made. They were asking who we were to impose something else on them.

From my perspective, the role of the police is to ensure that this consent is real. They need to have the means to do that, and they do under the Criminal Code. Beyond that, this is none of our business. We certainly should not change the fact that people can, according to what they say, voluntarily choose to work in this trade and do so in safety. Now, under Bill C-36, there will be no exceptions. The purchase of sexual services will always be a criminal offence.

There are serious problems associated with this issue. The government is using sound bites and shocking stories about human trafficking, which are true, by the way, to try to tell us that Bill C-36 addresses that. However, this bill does not respond to the ruling in Bedford, and that is unfortunate.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend talked about the courage of convictions of parties with respect to the issue of prostitution and referred to the Supreme Court decision in the Bedford case. She will know that the Chief Justice said that it will be for Parliament, should it choose to do so, to devise a new approach reflecting different elements of the existing regime.

Our government is taking a courageous stand. For the first time in Canadian history, we are saying that prostitution victimizes people. It victimizes vulnerable women and girls and young men, it drives the demand for human trafficking, and for the first time, we are making the purchase of the sexual services of another person illegal. That is a courageous stand.

When that hon. member last stood in this House to speak to Bill C-36, I asked her very specifically what the NDP would do if the NDP were in our shoes and had the opportunity to bring in a bill in response to the Bedford decision. How would it address the Chief Justice's request that Parliament do something that is within its purview? How would New Democrats be courageous in helping to reduce the scourge of prostitution that victimizes people in our country?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Two things, Mr. Speaker, because there are two elements in the question from my esteemed colleague.

The first one is about the Supreme Court of Canada.

I would like to clarify something, because the Conservatives always fail to mention it. When the Conservatives talk about how the Supreme Court found that “[c]oncluding that each of the challenged provisions violates the Charter does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted”, they always fail to mention that this is true “as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes”. That is clear.

The Conservatives have asked me twice what the NDP would do in these circumstances. We will spell it out when we form the government. Hopefully that will happen soon because we are tired of listening to this type of rhetoric. What I can say is that we will not hide important statistics on such a major issue as prostitution. We will not hold bogus consultations and we will not hide crucial information about such an important issue. When a government makes decisions like that, claiming they are in people's best interests, it loses all credibility. When you do something in people's best interests, you do not have to hide things from them.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to say more about the mixed messages the minister is sending. He introduced a bill in the House of Commons and said that his legal experts studied the bill and everything was fine. However, a number of experts appeared before the committee and said that there were constitutional issues and that the bill failed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The minister is saying, in essence, that the bill may not comply with the ruling and may be unconstitutional.

My colleague spoke about that. Was the bill constitutional or not, and why was the minister unable to give a clear answer?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a lawyer who will be celebrating 30 years of legal practice in November, I would venture that we cannot say that it is completely unconstitutional or completely constitutional.

The minister says that he is convinced that this will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. I got a minor amendment passed. I do not really boast about it because I find that ridiculous. Once again, the Conservatives do not want to be clear and transparent.

We asked the minister to report on prostitution and human trafficking two years after the passage of the bill. They amended my amendment to increase the time period to five years. With Bill C-13, they increased it to seven years. We all know that this will be before the courts well before that.

I would like to reiterate that this is a health and safety issue. We must not put the lives of people who work in a very dangerous environment at risk. This is very serious.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

That is probably the best question ever, especially for me.

I wanted to speak more about the amendments that we presented.

We often feel that the government opposite rejects outright the amendments that we put forward and believes we propose amendments just for fun. That is not at all the case. We take our role as legislators seriously.

I am still wondering why the government rejected these amendments given its philosophy and its basic principles with respect to Bill C-36. In one of our first amendments, I made suggestions about the application of the Criminal Records Act and the criminal records of individuals—the same people the government called victims—convicted of offences for which they will no longer be prosecuted but exempted. Why would the government not suspend their criminal records?

I also do not understand why the government refused an amendment to make an addition to the preamble. Although we often say that the preambles are not the law, they convey the spirit of the law. Our suggestion seemed to be in keeping with the government's comments.

We suggested that the following be added to the preamble:

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada decided in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford that certain provisions of the Criminal Code have a grossly disproportionate effect on persons who engage in prostitution by putting their health and safety at risk and making them more vulnerable to violence;

That was the whole point of the Bedford decision. We thought it was important to highlight that and once again underscore how important it is to look at issues such as poverty, housing, health care needs and other socio-economic problems affecting women who are in the sex trade because they lack other options.

These amendments were not dangerous. They reflected exactly what we heard from witnesses, who testified because the government asked them to.

That is where it becomes clear that Bill C-36 is, sadly, part of the Conservatives' ideology. It does not address human trafficking. Frankly, it brings a proverbial sledgehammer down on those who are already vulnerable.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, about a year ago, when the former member for Bourassa joined the mayoral race in Montreal, his election platform included a plan to close all of the massage parlours that were basically brothels and employed minors.

When he was elected mayor, people asked if he was going to follow through, and he said that he would only shut down the ones that employed minors. In the end, none of them were closed because the authorities could not find any that employed minors.

Is that the same argument that we are hearing from the other side—that no one should trade sex for money, in order to protect children? Is that argument not indicative of the deception hidden in this bill? Is the government using children to justify the religious Conservative ideology, according to which it is wrong to pay for sex?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this excellent question is worthy of a full dissertation. Clearly, no one has an simple answer.

Indeed, there are a few problems related to my colleague's question. First of all, I still do not know how this bill defines the concept of sexual services. How does that affect the things my colleague mentioned? This is not yet clear. The minister has not provided a clear answer to these questions.

The example of Montreal is typical of the promises that the current mayor made during the election campaign. This just goes to show that words can sometimes be a far cry from reality. When our intentions are sincere we provide the necessary means to back them up, in other words, in this case, more police officers and a lot more than $20 million over five years. This requires a firm commitment. It is not enough to announce an investment of $20 million at the end of a press conference.

The government needs to walk the talk, which it does not always do.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure that I rise to speak today on what is no doubt an important piece of legislation. I will talk about the issue for the first part of my debate, and then the second part will be more specifically with respect to the bill and why the Liberal Party has expressed so much concern about it.

As a number of members might be aware, I have been a parliamentarian, whether in this House or in the Manitoba legislature, for well over 20 years. There are a number of issues that come into play every so often on which I feel compelled to speak. This is one of those issues.

If members are familiar with Winnipeg North or the riding I used to represent at the Manitoba legislature, they would be aware that to drive to work I would drive down Burrows Avenue, from roughly the 1900 block all the way down to Salter Street, which is at the 300 block of Burrows Avenue. I would then turn right and head straight to the legislative building.

If there is a heart of this social dilemma that we find ourselves in, I was driving through it virtually every day that the Manitoba legislature sat. When the Manitoba legislature sat, I drove through the core of Winnipeg North, in particular the older neighbourhood of Winnipeg North.

I think of the streets where there are serious issues of prostitution, and everything around it. We are talking about streets, from Mcgregor , Salter, square blocks to Main Street, and streets like Pritchard Avenue, in part. These streets are part of a community which at one time were the pride of Winnipeg. There is so much richness and cultural diversity there today.

However, there are also some very strong social needs there. What I have witnessed over the last couple of decades is a sense of desperation, a community that in many ways is in need of government attention. When I say government attention, I am not just talking about attention from Ottawa or the province; I am referring to the different levels of government and the many different stakeholders.

There are many different non-profit groups in that little box, if I can put it that way, from Arlington Street to Main Street, from the tracks almost all of the way up to Inkster, and definitely up to Mountain, that do fabulous work in terms of trying to deal with the social issues there.

Over the years, I have observed first-hand the seriousness of prostitution and how that has destroyed the lives of our young people. I have seen prostitutes who would appear to be in the early teens, and when I say early teens, that is even questionable. I know 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds, and even younger, who get engaged in prostitution. Even though it is predominantly females or young girls, there are also males who get engaged in prostitution. It is not by choice that this is taking place; it is a destructive force that needs to be recognized.

I have always felt that the best way to deal with this social issue is to see a higher sense of co-operation from the different stakeholders, and in particular from the different levels of government.

When this bill came before the House of Commons, I was intrigued. Winnipeg North is not unique. There might be a dozen or more other constituencies similar in nature, so I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to exchange ideas, because many of the issues that need to be dealt with when it comes to prostitution go far beyond the Criminal Code.

I have heard a lot of discussion through this process. I appreciate the time various individuals put in over the summer to sit on the committee. I would often tune in from Winnipeg to catch up on what was taking place in Ottawa, and there has been a lot of debate about the criminal element of prostitution. However, not only is there a role for criminal law to play in this issue; there is also a far greater role for us to play in dealing with prostitution and human trafficking by looking beyond our criminal laws.

I have had first-hand experience and heard sad stories. A family in Tyndall Park had a young lady torn from their lives. She was murdered. She was enticed by drugs and was sucked into prostitution. From what I understand, this particular young lady was drawn into prostitution through crystal meth and the criminal element present at the time. She even had children.

Thank goodness for her parents, who were able to provide a loving, nurturing family. They never lost hope for their daughter, but sadly, she was brutally murdered.

There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of others that the system failed that young lady. There is this sense that we, collectively, need to do more. When I say “we”, it goes beyond members of Parliament, beyond elected officials at all levels, beyond bureaucrats at all levels. It goes to the non-profit groups that we refer to and to the core of our communities themselves. I saw first-hand the impact on a family and in part on a community.

Another individual I have known for a number of years tried to provide care to a foster girl. As much as this individual wanted to provide protection for the girl, the system did not allow him to provide the type of protection that he and his wife and his family wanted to provide. That foster child ultimately ended up falling victim to the criminal element and was roped in to prostitution.

I could relate endless stories that I have heard through the years. I can recall one touching one. A family overseas thought they could get their daughter over to Canada. She was told that she would be able to work in the hospitality industry. The family thought, of course, of a restaurant or a hotel or something of that nature. Once this young lady arrived, she was brought into the criminal element, which included prostitution among many other things.

There are numerous stories. I like to believe that we as a whole will do what we can to ensure that we are protecting the vulnerable people in the communities we represent.

I am a very strong advocate for the Marymound centre, which is a wonderful north end care facility that is, in essence, run by volunteers and some paid staff. They take some very troubled individuals into their care and under their tutelage to try to get them out of the rut of the dark side, out of criminality, including prostitution.

I had the opportunity to tour that facility years ago. In the Manitoba legislature and here in Ottawa I have had the opportunity to talk about Marymound as an organization that assists young girls in proving an opportunity to succeed in life. In many cases, they are taken right from the street or from dysfunctional families and brought into a situation where they can feel safe and, hopefully, get on a track that ultimately leads to a much more positive outcome for many of them.

We need to look at how we can build upon organizations with proven track records of success. When I get into discussions on crime bills, I talk a lot about how we can come up with progressive ideas that would enable governments at whatever level to support initiatives that would prevent crimes from occurring in the first place.

I would apply that very same principle here. Can government do more than it is currently doing to prevent young girls and boys from becoming prostitutes? What can government do to assist individuals who have already been captured by the criminal prostitution element and are currently in the system? What can we do to assist them in getting out of it? This is where my interest really lies, and I think government can make a difference.

I cited two specific examples. The first example I talked about was the prostitute with the crystal meth. This is someone who was already in the system. The parents had a tremendous amount of frustration in trying to find ways to get her out of the system. That was the first example that I gave.

The second example that I gave was the loving, caring family that realized their foster child was sneaking out late at night and being drawn into the system. The social services system failed, and no one was able to prevent this particular individual from falling into this brutal system.

That is where I believe we can do more. That is why I brought up the Marymound system. If we have resources like Marymound, which I am using as an example, they can help individuals who are currently involved with the criminal element and hopefully pull them out.

There are so many other things that we could be doing, such as providing educational opportunities, providing basic life skills that would ultimately lead to alternative forms of employment, and providing hope in many ways. We could look at ways to develop programs that would build self-confidence. There are all of these things.

I know the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is very much aware of the impact of the system on what could be a wonderful, bright young lady with all sorts of hope and future, and how individuals try to keep a person down through the enticement of drugs or often the beatings that take place. They are used to keep individuals in a place where they should not be.

Governments and non-profit agencies do have a role to counter that. I have made a few suggestions as to how we could move in that direction, and I would challenge the government to work in co-operation on other initiatives that will make a tangible difference.

When I was first elected, I remember Vic Toews saying to me that he wanted to see more community policing. He believed we needed to have more policing in our communities. He actually assigned a significant amount of money to ensure that there would be more police hired, but when I looked into it, I found that there was some money, but it was tied. When it was sent to my province of Manitoba, the provincial government sat on that money. For different reasons, It did not want to use it for policing, but the point is that it was sitting on that money, and in my last few days as an MLA, community police offices were actually being shut down.

Community police officers would go into schools and try to make a difference in the lives of individual young people who found it challenging to be out on the street in the first place. What was missing was the sense that we have not just a responsibility, but a higher responsibility to start working together to make sure that the job is actually getting done. That is something that is very lacking.

If there is anything I can contribute to this debate on Bill C-36, I believe it is to emphasize is a very significant point, and it is this: it is more than Ottawa and more than the provincial and municipal governments. It includes the stakeholders and so many others who need to get involved on this issue.

I would like to indicate the primary concern that the Liberal Party has with this legislation. It can be referred to as 200-plus lawyers. It is the constitutionality of the legislation.

The government has not been able to provide, outside of its own department, official legal opinions that the bill would stand a chance with the charter, and the reason we have the legislation before us today is that the current laws themselves have failed the charter. That led to the legislation before us today, but from everything we are being told, this legislation will not be able to meet the charter either.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member skated around the issue four times from Sunday. Two weeks ago, the leader of the Liberal Party tweeted, “The days when old men get to decide what a woman does with her body are long gone. Times have changed for the better. #LPC defends rights”.

The Liberal Party is not supporting Bill C-36. We heard the member speak over and over again about human trafficking in Winnipeg North. Will that member toe the party line or will he vote “yes” to Bill C-36?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that we have legal experts from all over Canada who are challenging this legislation's ability to even clear the charter. The reason we have the legislation before us today is because of the Bedford decision. There have been many commentaries throughout this whole process regarding that. It is one of the reasons I wanted to try to personalize it.

There is much more that we could be doing outside of criminal law. It is more important that when we pass criminal law, we ensure we have it right. The government has not been successful demonstrating that it has it right.

It is not just the Liberal Party or the NDP saying that. We are talking about hundreds of lawyers and different stakeholders that go beyond lawyers.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the examples my colleague brought forth from his riding were well taken.

I will remind him that we are in third reading, so it is unfortunately a little late for all of the suggested improvements. We are now at the point where we will be voting to accept or defeat the legislation. On this side, we will be voting against it.

Having brought all of these great ideas and knowing that they cannot be brought forward anymore, what is member for Winnipeg North going to be doing regarding this legislation as far as supporting it further down the road? What are we going to be looking at as far as bringing this forward in the community?

Specifically, I would like to know from him if it is a good idea to be passing legislation like this without giving the opportunity and the tools to those who are disenfranchised and have fewer resources in the country to bring forward legislation to the courts. This legislation, from so many experts that I have spoken to, is almost certainly going to be challenged in the courts. It is almost certainly going to be defeated, because it does not actually address the single most important issue that the courts brought up, which is harm reduction.

Could the member please give some comments on how the community groups that he spoke to are going to be able to challenge this on the ground?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my attempt in delivering my comments was to try to emphasize that the Liberal Party believes we have a very serious social issue in facing human trafficking and prostitution. We need to recognize that government has a role to play that goes beyond the Criminal Code.

What we have before us today is a direct result of a ruling from the Supreme Court. We have been advised, as others have been.

Let me quote a letter that was addressed to the Prime Minister and authored by, from what I understand, well over 200 lawyers. It says:

We are concerned about the direction your government is taking with respect to adult prostitution in Canada. Bill C-36, also known as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, proposes a legal regime that criminalizes many aspects of adult prostitution, including the purchase of sexual services, the advertisement of sexual services, and most communication in public for the purpose of prostitution.

As the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously held in Canada...three of Canada’s current adult prostitution laws are an unjustifiable infringement of sex workers’ right to security of the person, pursuant to s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...These laws were found to create and exacerbate dangerous conditions and prevent sex workers from taking action to reduce or mitigate the risks they face. We are concerned that, for the very same reasons that caused the Court to strike down these prostitution laws, the criminal regime proposed by Bill C-36 is likely to offend the Charter as well.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:20 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the member has just mentioned that the government did not present any witnesses who were, outside of government, legal experts who would support the constitutionality of Bill C-36. I am happy to have the opportunity to stand and correct him.

The member said that he watched the House of Commons proceedings in the summer. I hope he had a chance to hear the testimony of Professor Benedet of the University of British Columbia, not a government lawyer, at both the House of Commons and the Senate committee hearings.

I would like to read for him the transcript from Professor Benedet's appearance before the Senate proceedings where she was asked a question by Senator Plett.

Senator Plett said:

My question is whether you believe that this proposed law is, in fact, in accordance with the Bedford ruling. If so, how? Do you believe that, in fact, it will stand the test of a challenge to the Supreme Court?

Professor Benedet answered:

Yes, I do. I do believe both that the law is a genuine attempt to respond to the restrictions put on Parliament by the decision in Bedford, and it does seem to me, that the law is crafted in a way that it meets the demands of the Charter.

She further went on to say:

Overall, I see here a bill that is largely attuned to the concerns that the court raised. If the argument that is being made is that criminalizing the purchase of sex is inherently unconstitutional, we have to recognize what is being asserted then is that there is a constitutional right to buy women in prostitution. My reading of the Charter of Rights, particularly in light of the equality provisions, doesn't support that conclusion.

Could the member comment on Professor Benedet's analysis and at least acknowledge that in fact there are legal experts who support the constitutionality of this bill?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would defer to the Liberal Party critic on the issue. I was present when he made the speech indicating that it was very clear that the overwhelming response from the legal community was that this would not pass the charter.

A Winnipeg Free Press story, written on June 10, states:

Shawna Ferris, a founding member of the WWG, said the bill would put sex workers in danger. Apart from the overall criminalization of purchasing, she said other proposed changes make it harder for sex workers to do their jobs safely.

My understanding is this was the attitude in part that ultimately led to the Supreme Court to make some sort of a decision.

At the end of the day, it is the vast majority of the legal community. When I say “the vast majority”, we are probably talking, outside of the ones who maybe work for the department, 95% plus who would have said that this would not pass a charter test. People should be concerned about it.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend all the hard work done by our colleague, the member for Gatineau, on this file.

She highlighted two important priorities of the NDP, specifically, the safety of sex workers and the constitutionality of this bill. Clearly, this bill does not address either priority.

I would like to come back to something my colleague said. Women who resort to prostitution are usually very poor, and unfortunately, many of them have substance abuse problems. What concrete measures does she think the government could take to address the root causes of prostitution, specifically, poverty among women?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the government can do is demonstrate leadership and work with the different stakeholders to make a difference at the ground level within our communities. It can build upon things such as the Marymound association. It can look at ways in which to encourage these young people to upgrade their education or to get back into school. It can look at ways to find alternative forms of employment, or support them through child care, as an example, or look at drug addiction issues.

If we had a strong leadership coming from Ottawa to work with the different provinces and the other stakeholders, there is a multitude of different programs that could be put into place that would have a profound positive impact. However, there has to be the political will and the sense of need to work with everyone from the community groups within the small communities to the different levels of government.

If we achieve this and we are successful at doing it, then we will be able to deal with some of the literally hundreds or thousands of cases that occur every year where young boys and girls are being exploited of which a vast majority are female.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:25 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 is the government's response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in December 2013 in the Bedford case, a decision that will result in the decriminalization of most adult prostitution related activities if this bill is not enforced before expiry of the court's one-year suspension, on December 20 of this year.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights studied the bill in July 2014 and a Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs pre-studied it in early September. Both committees heard from many witnesses, reflecting a wide range of views. That evidence also included consideration of the available research evaluating different approaches to prostitution taken in different jurisdictions.

The government has always maintained that failing to respond to the Bedford decision is not an option and that the testimony before these two committees reaffirms this position.

At committee, the Hon. Andrew Swan, minister of justice and attorney general for the Government of Manitoba, stated the following:

The Manitoba government does not support the legalization of prostitution, it does not support the full decriminalization of prostitution or a de facto decriminalization of prostitution, which would occur if there was no response to the Bedford decision. All those options would continue to allow the purchase of others for sex, devalue human life, and enable tragedies associated with prostitution to continue to occur.

I acknowledge that there are some individuals who will say that they have freely chosen to sell their sexual services. The two committees heard from some witnesses who wanted the law to recognize a profession that they called “sex work”, who wanted the law to help them earn a living selling their own sexual services. They wanted the law to allow them to run commercial enterprises in which sexual services would be sold so they could capitalize on the prostitution of others.

These witnesses told the committees that existing laws prohibiting assault, sexual assault, forceable confinement and human trafficking provided them with sufficient protection and that they were not victims, that they freely chose what they referred to as “sex work” and that the state had no right to tell them that they could not earn a living doing what they chose to do.

Conversely, so many of the witnesses who appeared before the two committees spoke of their tragic stories of pain, suffering and victimization, stories of johns who had abused and degraded them for their own sexual pleasure and pimps who had harmed and exploited them to maximize their own profits.

These stories are also supported by statistics that clearly show that prostitution targets the marginalized, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable, including those who suffer disadvantages because of gender, poverty, race, youth and a history of abuse for addiction. We do not accept that this group should have to wait until a violent offence is committed against them to avail themselves of the law's protection. Make no mistake about it, Bill C-36 is for them.

Even if in some cases prostitution involves some who identify themselves as consenting adults, that does not detract from the validity of Bill C-36 objectives. Some times it is necessary to prohibit conduct that produces harm or risk of harm to individuals or society, even if not in every case. The courts have recognized that the liberty of some to engage in certain conduct can be constrained to protect others who are vulnerable to the harms associated with that conduct. This includes polygamy, incest, possession and trafficking of drugs and the trade in human organs and tissues. These are practices that so often involve a power imbalance between the participants. That imbalance often results in the more powerful party taking advantage of the less powerful party.

The criminal law has an important role to play in protecting the less powerful and the vulnerable. Even if in some cases a power imbalance is not present, the elevated risk that the vulnerable could be targeted, that the vulnerable could suffer if the activity is allowed to persist, warrants prohibition of the activity itself because harm results to everyone when a practice that targets the vulnerable is allowed to flourish.

Prostitution is a case in point. We know that women are disproportionately and negatively impacted by prostitution. We know that indicators of socio-economic disadvantage are risk factors for entry into and remaining subjected to prostitution. We know that involvement in prostitution results in the experience of high levels of violence, both physical and sexual, and emotional trauma, regardless of venue or legal regime. The individual and societal risks of validating this activity are simply too high.

Simply put, we cannot condone this so-called industry for the benefit of those individuals who claim to freely choose it, because doing so would exacerbate the harm experienced by that vulnerable group who are most at risk of subjection to prostitution, and importantly, do not choose it. Facilitating this industry would also harm communities, including through proliferation of associated criminality such as drug-related offences and human trafficking, as well as society at large by reinforcing gender inequalities and normalizing the treatment of primarily women's bodies as bought and sold.

Make no mistake, this is not a business like any other. It is not an industry like any other, or work like any other. It is exploitation of our most vulnerable and our law must say no, this is not acceptable. If that means that some who would like to profit from the trade in sexual services can no longer do so, then that result is necessary to prevent the ongoing and future victimization of others.

I have focused thus far on the vulnerability of so many of those who sell their own sexual services, but what about those who purchase those same services? Some have asked why Bill C-36 would label this group “exploiters” when some are not.

We must take into account a variety of societal factors when determining whether the criminal law should apply to certain conduct, including when that conduct can be engaged in consensually. If allowing that conduct results in a reasonable apprehension of harm to some, particularly the vulnerable, the application of the criminal law is justified.

Bill C-36 recognizes that the act of purchasing sexual services, regardless of the circumstances, contributes to a serious societal problem that implicates the equality of rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups. That practice must be stopped to protect the dignity and equality of those vulnerable groups and indeed every member of our society. This approach reflects one of the fundamental roles of criminal law, which is to protect the vulnerable.

These are the reasons Bill C-36 proposes a fundamental paradigm shift toward treatment of prostitution as sexual exploitation. These are the reasons Bill C-36 proposes to continue to criminalize those who capitalize upon the exploitation of the prostitution of others. These are the reasons Bill C-36 proposes to criminalize those who fuel the demand for prostitution.

I would like to recap. The important objectives of Bill C-36 are to reduce the incidence of prostitution, a practice that targets the vulnerable; to discourage entry into it; to deter participation in it; and ultimately, to abolish it to the greatest extent possible.

For the first time in Canadian criminal law, Bill C-36 would make the purchase of sexual services a criminal offence. Although the sale of sexual services would not be prohibited, criminalizing the demand for sexual services in fact makes prostitution an illegal activity.

Some have said that an approach involving asymmetrical criminalization of a consensual activity is unprecedented, but the purchasing offence is almost identical to the existing offence that prohibits the purchase of sexual services from minors. That offence has been on the books for years and is the basis for widespread agreement on the fact that our existing law makes child prostitution illegal.

Here we see the very same power imbalance to which I have already alluded, and Bill C-36 recognizes that this power imbalance does not cease to exist simply when a person turns 18 years old. The law also treats sexual activity with minors asymmetrically. The consent of persons under the age of 16 to such activity is not valid. In several instances, the criminal law applies asymmetrically to ensure that the person who has less power, who is considered to be vulnerable, is not held criminally liable for engaging in illegal activities.

I come to the critical question that seems to have caused a great deal of confusion. How does Bill C-36 make prostitution illegal?

The Supreme Court of Canada has defined prostitution as the exchange of sexual services of one person in return for payment by another. Criminalizing the purchase of sexual services invalidates the entire prostitution transaction.

This is no different from the criminal law's approach to child prostitution, and research shows that there is good reason to treat child prostitution and adult prostitution as activities that exist along the same continuum rather than separate activities, warranting suppression in one case and facilitation in the other. In far too many cases, there is no practical difference in warranting differential treatment by the law.

Professor Benedet's testimony before the Senate committee drives this point home. Although long, I would like to quote her fully.

She said:

It is a crime to buy a young person for sex, and no one seems to be disputing the continued existence of that provision or questioning its constitutionality. No one is going to come to you and ask you to repeal that provision because it makes kids unsafe by pushing prostitution underground, even though exactly the same argument ought to apply.

The reason they will not argue it is that it is generally accepted that buying a young person is exploitation because of the inequality of power based on age, even if the kid says yes.

She goes on to say:

Of course, there are usually many other inequalities at work, including some combination of gender, colonialism, poverty and addiction. Yet, when the inequality of age is no longer present, people refuse to see any of the other inequalities that are so prevalent in the prostitution industry, even when that prostitute, now an adult, started as a child, which was true of many of the witnesses in the Bedford case.

I submit that it is time to stop ignoring those inequalities and that Bill C-36 does something very important in recognizing that there are other inequalities beyond age that make the prostitution industry exploitative and worthy of the criminal law's attention.

That is the end of the quote.

As I have said, Bill C-36 does not propose to criminalize the sale of sexual services, instead it proposes to immunize sellers from prosecution for the part they play in the illegal prostitution transaction.

This immunity does not, however, make that transaction legal. The approach does not in any way allow, authorize, facilitate or condone the selling of sexual services. Rather, it recognizes the power imbalance that so often manifests itself in this transaction.

The solution is to assist, not punish, the less powerful party to that transaction. I stress that so many sellers, some who courageously appeared before the two committees, rarely freely choose prostitution. For many, their choices were constrained, whether by the brute force of those who would profit from their exploitation or by the lack of meaningful options from which to choose.

This is the reason the bill proposes to immunize them from prosecution for the part that they play in the illegal prostitution transaction.

It is also why the government has dedicated $20 million in addition to other existing federal initiatives to assist sellers in leaving prostitution. Protecting those who are so vulnerable to the dangers and risks posed by prostitution involve preventing entry into it, helping those involved leave it, and directing the full force of the criminal law at those who fuel this trade, as well as those who capitalize on it.

I want to read to the House the words of a very courageous woman who appeared before the House of Commons justice committee in July this year. Her name is Bridget Perrier and I have to say that I was moved by her testimony. I think all who hear it will be equally moved. I want people to hear this. I think it is important that my colleagues here in the House hear it and that Canadians across the country hear it. She said:

I was lured and debased into prostitution at the age of 12 from a child welfare-run group home. I remained enslaved for 10 years in prostitution. I was sold to men who felt privileged to steal my innocence and invade my body. I was paraded like cattle in front of men who were able to purchase me, and the acts that I did were something no little girl should ever have to endure here in Canada, the land of the free.

Because of the men, I cannot have a child normally, because of trauma towards my cervix. Also, still to this day I have nightmares, and sometimes I sleep with the lights on. My trauma is deep, and I sometimes feel as though I'm frozen—or even worse, I feel damaged and not worthy.

I was traded in legal establishments, street corners, and strip clubs. I even had a few trips across the Great Lakes servicing shipmen at the age of 13. The scariest thing that happened to me was being held captive for a period of 43 hours and raped and tortured repeatedly at 14 years of age by a sexual predator who preyed on exploited girls.

My exploiters made a lot of money and tried to break me, but I fought for my life. My first pimp was a woman who owned a legal brothel, where I was groomed to say that I was her daughter's friend, if the police ever asked. My second pimp was introduced to me when I was in Toronto. I had to prostitute for money. He was supposed to be a bodyguard, but that turned out to be one big lie.

Both are out there still, doing the same thing to more little girls somewhere here in Canada.

In my view, if there is one more little girl like Bridget Perrier anywhere in Canada, we need to do something about it. We cannot stand idly by.

The Supreme Court said it is for us as parliamentarians to do something about this. It is within our jurisdiction to do something about this. She did not talk about legalizing brothels and bringing in municipal bylaws to regulate their hours of operation. She talked about using the laws for which Parliament is responsible, the criminal laws, to bring in a new way of responding to what is a horrible practice in our country.

We must aspire to a society free from the exploitive practices that target our most vulnerable members, a society that prioritizes dignity and equality of all. For Bridget Perrier, for Timea Nagy, for Katarina MacLeod, and for the dozens and hundreds of others out there, we must do this.

I hope my colleagues on the other side of the House, especially the Liberals, who do not seem to be able to make up their minds, will choose to support Bill C-36. Do the right thing and recognize the women who are trapped in this business as victims and help them to bring an end to this awful practice that has enslaved far too many in our society.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, we were deeply moved by the testimony we heard in committee, especially that of Bridget Perrier.

I was at least happy to know that the Criminal Code still has very strict provisions regarding human trafficking and sexual exploitation. I would like to repeat that, because the Conservatives would have people believe that without Bill C-36, Canada would have no such protections, when in fact those provisions provide an excellent framework.

Since this will probably be my only opportunity to do so, I would like to ask the same question.

If at first we do not succeed, try, try again.

I will ask this again to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. Can somebody please define for me what Bill C-36 means when it talks about sexual services? It is not an idle question. It is important. Does it cover sexual acts that are done that are pretty close to—whatever, I will not qualify it—but that happen in some clubs? Does it touch escort agencies? That is a very important question.

On the review and report, why did the government push back to five years our motion to get a review and report in two years?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear I think to everyone, to the courts, that sexual services means the sexual gratification of the other person. There are many cases heard on the definition of that particular phrase, and I would suggest to my hon. friend that she take a look at some of those cases.

We need to take this opportunity, which was presented to us by the Supreme Court, to finally address this terrible trade that is enslaving far too many people in our country.

The hon. member asked why we would want to review the law in five years rather than two. The reason is that we need time to see how the law is being enforced and to have evidence come forward. Two years is a very narrow amount of time for that evidence to become available, but in five years we think it will be sufficient time. That was why I was pleased to support her suggestion for a mandatory review of the bill going forward, and with that small amendment to make it a five-year review as opposed to two.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul for her question. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous work she has done over many years to fight for the rights of trafficked persons in Canada and around the world. She deserves a lot of credit for that.

The Liberal member said earlier that he had a letter from 200 lawyers saying they thought the bill was unconstitutional and did not live up to the test in the Bedford decision. I practise in a law firm of over 950 lawyers, and there are 14,000 lawyers practising in the city of Toronto, if my memory serves me correctly. I think there are plenty of lawyers who agree with the constitutionality of this bill, and I am one of them.

The bill was crafted to directly respond to what was requested by the three litigants in the Bedford case. They asked for the right to carry on their trade from a fixed indoor location where they could adequately screen their clients and protect themselves, and Bill C-36 provides exactly for that. It allows them to get off the streets, to do it in a fixed indoor location, a safe place which has a receptionist and bodyguard, paid for on reasonable commercial terms which are not exploitive.

I believe those things, coupled with the statement of the purpose of the bill, which is to reduce prostitution and the harm done to both society and communities by prostitution, would ensure that the bill is found constitutional by the Supreme Court if it is ever tested in the future.

I want to say one further thing. Criminal lawyers know that if they cannot defend their clients on the facts, they always challenge the constitutionality of a bill. That is just common law practice.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is quite simple.

I would like my colleague to tell us precisely what new tools Bill C-36 adds to the law. The minister's proposed money and programs aside, what section of the Criminal Code affected by the bill does not already deal with human trafficking and human exploitation? Sections 279 and 279.01 are clear: human trafficking and human exploitation are offences that, committed together with violence, assault or confinement, are punishable to life in prison.

What tools does Bill C-36 add to existing legislation?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that she missed it.

What is new and exciting about this bill is that for the first time in Canadian history it makes the purchase of sexual services of another person illegal. It would allow us to reduce the demand for the prostitution of other people, which reduces the demand for human trafficking. If there are less people trying to buy those services, there will be less young girls trafficked.

We do not have to wait until they are trafficked, harmed, or abused; we can reduce the demand and make sure it does not happen in the first place. That is what is so very important about this bill, and that is why it is important that we pass it as soon as possible.

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September 26th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to voice my support for Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 would fill the gap created by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Bedford decision, which would result in the decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities if Bill C-36 is not in force before the expiry of the court's one-year suspension. I know with deep appreciation that the House of Commons justice committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied the bill during the summer recess in recognition of the Supreme Court's one-year time limit.

We have heard numerous criticisms of Bill C-36 from those people who oppose its approach, an approach that reflects a fundamental paradigm shift toward the treatment of prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation by criminalizing those who fuel the demand for prostitution and continuing to criminalize those who capitalize on that demand.

These criticisms include that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, assertion one; that it should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for determination of its constitutionality, assertion two; and ultimately that the Bedford decision requires decriminalization of adult prostitution, assertion three. I propose to address each of these three assertions in turn.

With respect to the first assertion, that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, the Supreme Court of Canada defined in Bedford the objectives of the three impugned prostitution offences narrowly as addressing primarily the nuisance aspect of prostitution rather than its harms. In doing so, it came to the conclusion that the effect of these offences was either grossly disproportionate or overbroad with respect to its objectives because they prevented sellers of sexual services from taking steps to protect themselves when engaging in a risky but legal activity. Specifically, existing provisions do not permit selling sexual services from fixed indoor locations, which was found to be the safest way to sell sex; hiring legitimate bodyguards; or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places.

Bill C-36 comprehensively responds to these concerns. First, it articulates its new elevated objectives in its preamble. No longer would the law focus on addressing the nuisance aspects of prostitution. Bill C-36 is clearly targeted at addressing the exploitation involved in the practice and the harms it causes to those involved, to communities and to society at large by normalizing a practice that targets those who are disadvantaged, including because of gender, race, youth, poverty or a history of abuse.

Second, the scope of Bill C-36's proposed new and modernized offences is consistent with its objectives. Bill C-36 primarily targets the purchasers, those who fuel the demand for prostitution, and third parties, those who capitalize on that demand. Moreover, the proposed purchasing offence would make the prostitution transaction illegal. No longer would prostitution be a legal activity.

Bill C-36 would also immunize from prosecution those who are viewed as the vulnerable party to that illegal transaction, the sellers. Only in certain narrow circumstances would that group be held criminally liable, where their actions harm other vulnerable members of society, our children.

The justice committee narrowed the proposed “communicating offence” to apply only where communications for the purpose of selling sexual services occur in public places that are next to locations designated for use by children, namely, school grounds, playgrounds and daycare centres. The Senate committee heard that this narrowed offence clearly delineates the parameters of criminal liability and strikes the right balance between the protection of sellers and the protection of children who could be drawn into prostitution through exposure to the practice or harmed by dangerous refuse left behind, such as condoms and syringes. Furthermore, Bill C-36 would not prevent the implementation of certain safety measures noted in Bedford.

Specifically, Bill C-36 would not prevent selling sexual services from a fixed indoor location, hiring legitimate bodyguards or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places, other than in those three child-specific locations I have already mentioned. This does not mean that Bill C-36 would facilitate or authorize the sale of sexual services. On the contrary, just as the bill seeks to reduce the purchase of sexual services, so it also seeks to reduce the sale of those services. While we work toward achieving the bill's objectives, those who remain subjected to prostitution should not be prevented from taking the measures that the Supreme Court of Canada found to be the most safety-enhancing.

Some witnesses before the two committees found this approach contradictory and therefore constitutionally suspect. I cannot agree. In my view, this approach recognizes the power imbalance that often accompanies the prostitution transaction. In too many cases this transaction does not involve two consenting autonomous individuals

Asymmetry in the application of the criminal law to the prostitution transaction recognizes that so often prostitution involves the purchase of sexual acts by those with money and power from those with little money and less power. In particular, prostitution allows men, who are primarily the purchasers of sexual services, paid access to female bodies, thereby demeaning and degrading the human dignity of all women and girls by entrenching a clearly gendered practice in Canadian society.

This brings me to the second assertion, that Bill C-36 should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for constitutional analysis. I stress that the Bedford case constitutes a constitutional analysis on these very issues and I have just referred to the many ways in which the decision influenced the development of the bill. Moreover, we have heard academics tell the two committees that constitutional cases need a solid evidentiary foundation as to the effects of the legislation. The evidence adduced in Bedford does not provide that record in respect to Bill C-36, which has different objectives and proposes new prostitution offences. In short, it would be premature to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for its constitutional analysis at this stage.

I note, however, that the Minister of Justice tabled a technical paper with both parliamentary committees that summarizes the evidence relied upon in the development of Bill C-36. The technical paper is also available on the department's website.

The third assertion is that Bedford requires decriminalization. There are those who claim that Bedford stands for the proposition that the law must allow the purchase and sale of sexual services in fixed indoor locations; the employment of bodyguards, receptionists and others who may enhance safety; and all public communications for the purpose of selling or purchasing sexual services. However, this reading of the Bedford case ignores the fact that the court analyzed the three impugned provisions in their existing legal context. This context makes adult prostitution a legal activity and as held in Bedford, reduces the objectives of existing prostitution-related offences to combatting primarily the nuisance effects of prostitution. Moreover, this interpretation of Bedford ignores the Supreme Court of Canada's clear statement that Parliament is not precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted.

Those who read Bedford as requiring decriminalization appear to have forgotten the premise of the Supreme Court of Canada's analysis, that prostitution is currently a legal activity. In that context, the court found that sellers cannot be prevented from implementing safety measures. However, Bedford does not stand for the proposition that prostitution must be recognized as work like any other and those involved in the trade, be they sellers, so-called managers, or other third parties.

Bill C-36 fundamentally alters the premise on which the Supreme Court of Canada's constitutional analysis was based. It makes prostitution illegal because it is too dangerous and poses too great a harm to those involved, the communities in which it is practised, and society at large to entrench it as a form of work recognized by law. Bill C-36 posits that doing so would increase the sex trade, and concomitantly, increase the risk of vulnerable persons being drawn into it. The Bedford case does not preclude such an approach, rather it opens the door to it.

Bill C-36 is a welcome change to the criminal law's approach to prostitution. It recognizes that entrenching prostitution as a legitimate profession by facilitating it through decriminalization would result in more vulnerable persons being drawn into it. I do not think this is the type of society to which we should aspire.

I implore my fellow parliamentarians to stand with those who have been subjected to prostitution by force or through lack of meaningful options, some of whom courageously testified before the two committees and were silenced by prostitution's oppression. I ask all members to stand with me in support of the bill, which was specifically developed to protect vulnerable persons from oppression.

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September 26th, 2014 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a subject that has captured the interest of many people across Canada. I remember near the end of the summer having a number of ladies visit me in my office and urge me to support the bill. They are very concerned about the protection, especially of women and girls.

One of the things that many constituents have also suggested is that we should just legalize it and that would end the problem. I was wondering if my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, could give some feedback from other jurisdictions that have used various models. We have sometimes heard in the House about the so-called Swedish model. We have heard about legalization. I would be interested in helping myself and my constituents understand better what the implications are and have been for those jurisdictions that have gone ahead with legalization.

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September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that very relevant question.

Studies that have been conducted on other countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution—New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Germany—have found that in cases where it has been legalized, there has been a direct increase in human trafficking. There has also been a huge increase in the number of very violent crimes against the sex workers, so those who are vulnerable, because of legalization, have become increasingly more vulnerable.

However, in the case of Sweden, which is the Nordic model, from which we drew some of the best parts and of course formed our own Canadian model, what was found was that the number of sex offences decreased, the number of workers withdrew, there were social programs put in place to help those who wanted to withdraw, and there was notably a decrease in the sex trade, which is what we are trying to do with this very bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the criticisms of this government has been its general attitude in dealing with some of the social issues in communities. In Winnipeg North, for example, there are many entry points where individuals get involved, whether it is with prostitution, drugs or other issues. These are very strong social concerns.

Could the member explain why it is that the Conservatives seem, despite talking about $20 million over x number of years, to have really fallen short? Why not support our communities by being more proactive, by looking at ways in which we can prevent our young people in particular from getting into activities such as prostitution, selling drugs and some of those minor crimes, and invest in our young people? Why is that not happening with the government?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, certainly on the topic of prostitution this government is committed to initially, and I do say initially, invest $20 million over five years to develop programs to withdraw those who willingly want to withdraw from the area of prostitution.

When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable, obviously our children, we have struck a balance and made it an offence to sell sexual services in areas where children could be available, because we do not want to expose them to used condoms or to an otherwise unacceptable social activity.

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September 26th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Criminal Code imposes dangerous conditions on sex workers, which contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The sections prohibiting brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public with clients threaten sex workers’ right to security of the person.

This bill is meant to respond to the Bedford decision. However, the exact opposite is happening. The NDP consulted many legal experts, stakeholder groups, sex workers and authorities who are affected by this bill, and that is in addition to the 75 witnesses who appeared in committee. The vast majority of them said that they do not believe the bill is going in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there are many problems with the bill. In short, it forces sex trade workers to work in even more dangerous conditions. They are putting themselves in danger because they have to be more isolated. They will be on the streets and in alleys. The bill perpetuates and exacerbates stigmatization. It does not take into account the opinions of experts, education and advocacy groups or sex trade workers. It will have a negative impact on the important process of negotiating the parameters of the transaction, safety, the client's choice and the consent of the parties involved. What is more, for these reasons and in light of the 2013 Bedford decision, experts have found that the bill is unconstitutional.

In short, the Conservatives want a model where sex trade workers are only approached in the street late at night, where they are unable to ask questions or take safety precautions to protect their bodies and their lives.

I would like to read an open letter signed by more than 200 legal experts from across Canada. They are calling on the federal government to examine the harmful and unconstitutional impact of this bill. The letter reads:

Bill C-36...proposes a legal regime that criminalizes many aspects of adult prostitution, including the purchase of sexual services, the advertisement of sexual services, and most communication in public for the purpose of prostitution.

As the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously held in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford (“Bedford”), three of Canada’s current adult prostitution laws are an unjustifiable infringement of sex workers’ right to security of the person, pursuant to s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“the Charter”). These laws were found to create and exacerbate dangerous conditions and prevent sex workers from taking action to reduce or mitigate the risks they face. We are concerned that, for the very same reasons that caused the Court to strike down these prostitution laws, the criminal regime proposed by Bill C-36 is likely to offend the Charter as well.

The prohibition on purchasing sexual services (and communicating anywhere for that purpose) will have much the same effect as existing adult prostitution laws. Targeting clients will displace sex workers to isolated areas where prospective customers are less likely to be detected by police. Such criminalization will continue to limit the practical ability of sex workers to screen their clients or negotiate the terms of the transaction, as there will be pressure from clients to proceed as quickly as possible. Sex workers will continue to face barriers to police protection and will be prevented from operating in a safe indoor space, as clients face the potential of being arrested if they attend such spaces.

As a result, while criminalizing the purchase of sexual services is said to be aimed at protecting sex workers, this type of criminal prohibition will in fact do what the current adult prostitution laws do, which is to subject sex workers to a greater risk to their safety. This constitutes the reason why such laws were invalidated in the Bedford judgment.

Bill C-36 also proposes a law that will prohibit the sex industry from advertising. This type of prohibition will significantly limit sex workers’ ability to work safely indoors, as it restricts their ability to communicate their services to potential clients. This is concerning considering that the Court in Bedford clearly found that the ability to operate in indoor venues is a key measure for sex workers to reduce the risk of violence.

We would also like to address the proposed prohibition on communication to offer sexual services in a public place.... This provision continues to criminalize street-based sex workers, who are among the most marginalized segment of the industry, and is only marginally narrower than what the Court struck down in Bedford. The law will have the same effect of displacing sex workers to isolated areas where they are more likely to work alone in order to avoid police detection, and where they will continue to rush into vehicles without taking the time to screen clients and negotiate the terms of the transaction.

The letter has been signed by over 200 legal experts, and I think it explains very clearly why we, as legislators, cannot support this bill. The letter is readily accessible to all online; it can be found among the press releases on the Pivot Legal Society website. That organization, one of the signatories to the letter, works to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion through legislation and policy, exploring what forces people to live on the fringes of society and what keeps them in difficult situations.

Whatever my hon. colleagues' personal beliefs are on the matter, we are going to have find a way to agree on how to respond to the requirements set out in the Bedford decision. This letter shows that the measures proposed in the bill go against those requirements.

We also need to guarantee the safety of sex workers, as directed by the court in the Bedford decision. However, this bill does the opposite by treating sex workers like criminals and putting their safety and their lives at risk.

Furthermore, this bill is unconstitutional, like many bills this government introduces, and too often they put the safety of the most marginalized people in Canada at risk. This includes aboriginal populations, women, transgendered people, refugees, people in the LGBTT community, and so on.

Again and again, the Conservatives try to protect the people they judge to be victims. However, in doing so, they marginalize them more. The government takes away their capacity for self-determination, which is just as important to human dignity as it is to protecting oneself, being safe and living a full life.

Everyone in Canada has a right to live free from violence and the risk of violence. As legislators, it is our duty to think about at-risk populations and help them reduce that risk. Bill C-36 flies in the face of this duty by increasing the risk of violence and death for a population working in an extremely dangerous profession.

Almost all experts agree. Not only did the Conservative government fail in its attempt to draft a proper bill, but because of it, we are also faced with the very disturbing possibility that the lives of sex workers will be deliberately and intentionally put in danger.

I therefore ask all of my colleagues in the House to vote against this bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with interest. She recently heard the response of the parliamentary secretary in response to a question I posed regarding the experience of other jurisdictions that have implemented some form of what we sometimes refer to as the Nordic model. It is clear that the bill we have before us is crafted after that but is a huge improvement.

I am wondering how she can ignore the lived experience of communities, jurisdictions, and other nations that have gone a different route and experienced a rise in prostitution. Those who have implemented a variation of the Nordic model have seen an increase in safety for women and girls who are vulnerable to trafficking.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that my colleague did not really listen to my speech.

He thinks it is the Nordic model, but that is not true in the least. This bill actually criminalizes women by taking away the means to do their job. Our priority is the safety of sex workers. It is obvious that this is not the Conservative government's priority with Bill C-36. The bill flies in the face of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Bedford case, which struck down three provisions of the law that put sex workers at even greater risk.

This bill criminalizes these men and women even more and puts them in greater danger. It runs completely counter to what the government claims to be doing, which is helping the people in this trade. It is awful to see this government constantly contradicting the Supreme Court and marginalizing Canadians.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is because of the Supreme Court ruling in Bedford that we have legislation before us today.

One of the challenges that the government has failed to meet is the whole issue of future constitutional challenges with regard to the current legislation if it were to become law. When we have asked for legal opinions to support that the legislation being provided is constitutionally sound and would pass, our understanding is that the response has been very negative.

In presentations at the committee stage, from what I understand there was lawyer after lawyer suggesting that the current legislation will not pass constitutional scrutiny. I am wondering if the member wants to provide some thoughts on the fact that when the House of Commons passes legislation there should be some sense that it will meet constitutional requirements.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we should not have to read in the House letters signed by 200 legal experts stating that a bill is contrary to a Supreme Court decision. This government clearly does not know how to govern on behalf of Canadians or how to work with the Supreme Court and respect Canadian law. By contradicting Supreme Court decisions, the Conservatives show that they have no respect for law and order, even though they claim to champion these ideals.

The NDP wants to work in a progressive manner to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect and support the men and women who do this work and to empower them. That is what needs to be done in order to take them out of dangerous situations.

Once again, this government is doing the opposite. It is marginalizing Canadians, our permanent residents, our refugees and members of our trans community. It constantly flies in the face of Canadian law and puts Canadians in danger. That is really appalling. This government has got to go.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join third reading debate on Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act. This bill would ensure that the Supreme Court of Canada's Bedford decision does not result in the decriminalization of most prostitution-related activities when the Supreme Court's one-year suspension expires on December 20.

Both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied Bill C-36 this summer and heard from numerous witnesses, many of whom agree that decriminalization of prostitution would result in an increase in the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

We have heard much about the proposed prostitution reforms of Bill C-36. These reforms reflect a fundamental paradigm shift toward treatment of prostitution for what it is: a form of sexual exploitation of, primarily, women and girls. We know that those who suffer socio-economic disadvantage are targeted by prostitution. We know that prostitution involves high rates of violence and trauma.

The committees have heard those stories from courageous survivors who came forth to tell their stories, stories that are supported by relevant research. This bill responds to this evidence. Its objectives are to reduce the incidence of prostitution, discourage entry into it, deter participation in it and ultimately abolish it to the greatest extent possible.

Bill C-36 contains other related amendments as well. I would like to focus on these aspects of the bill.

The bill recognizes that prostitution is linked to human trafficking. In fact, research shows that jurisdictions that have decriminalized or legalized prostitution have larger sex industries and experience higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. This is not surprising. Allowing the purchase and sale of sexual services results in an increase in demand for those services, and an increase in demand results in an increase in supply.

Research tells us who is at risk of meeting that demand: society's most vulnerable, those who are disadvantaged by sex, youth, poverty, race, drug addiction, a history of abuse. This group is equally vulnerable to the coercive practices of those who would exploit them for their own gain.

Prostitution and human trafficking exist along a continuum. For example, a person may decide to sell their own sexual services to pay rent, feed their children or just survive.

That person may be recruited or forced to work for those who would exploit her, or she may seek out the protective services of those same people, thinking that they will protect her when engaged in an inherently dangerous activity.

The concern is that it is in the economic interests of those so-called protectors to exploit the prostitution of those they claim to protect. What may have been originally conceived of as a mutually beneficial relationship can quickly become exploitative and abusive.

Traffickers use all manner of practices to keep their victims providing the services from which they profit. They threaten their victims and their victims' families, they assault, they sexually assault and they forcibly confine them. They leave their victims with no choice other than to provide the services demanded of them.

Bill C-36’s reforms would assist in preventing this trajectory by criminalizing those who fuel the demand for sexual services and those who capitalize on that demand.

When prostitution-related conduct becomes human trafficking-related conduct, the bill would increase the penalties to ensure that traffickers would be held to account for the horrific human rights abuses in which they engaged.

Specifically, Bill C-36 would impose mandatory minimum penalties, or MMPs, any time a person commits any of the human trafficking offences against a child.

Although the Criminal Code currently imposes mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking children, it does not impose MMPs for receiving a material benefit from child trafficking or for withholding or destroying documents to facilitate child trafficking. Bill C-36 would fill this gap. MMPs of two years and one year respectively would apply to this conduct, which is consistent with the MMPs proposed for child prostitution.

The bill would also impose MMPs for the offence that prohibits human trafficking. Individuals convicted of human trafficking would receive a minimum sentence of five years if they committed kidnapping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault or if they caused the death of the victim, and four years in all other cases.

This is consistent with existing penalties for child trafficking of six and five years in these same circumstances. Bill C-36 properly addresses the continuum of criminal behaviour associated with the provision of sexual services for consideration.

The fact that prostitution may, and does, result in human trafficking for sexual exploitation underscores the importance of prohibiting prostitution. The bill would ensure that the penalties for all of these related offences would be commensurate with the harmful conduct they censure.

Bill C-36 would also amend the definition of weapon in section 2 of the Criminal Code.

This amendment would ensure that offenders who possessed weapons of restraint, such as handcuffs, rope or duct tape, with the intent to commit an offence or to use such weapons to commit a violent offence would be held to account. Specifically, the amendment would clarify that.

First, possession of a weapon of restraint with intent to commit an offence constitutes criminal conduct under the offence prohibiting possession of weapon with intent to commit an offence.

Second, using a weapon of restraint to commit an assault or sexual assault would constitute criminal conduct under the offence prohibiting assault with a weapon or the offence prohibiting sexual assault with a weapon, depending on the facts of the case.

This approach would provide greater protection to all victims of these offences, including those who would sell their own sexual services. We know that sexual assault and assault are offences to which sellers of sexual services are particularly vulnerable.

Bill C-36 is more than just a response to the Bedford decision. It is also a response to the complex web of criminal conduct associated with prostitution.

It would provide law enforcement with powerful tools to address the many safety and societal concerns posed by prostitution.

Most importantly, it sends a strong message that Canada does not tolerate a practice that targets the most vulnerable in our society and places them at risk of suffering unspeakable and unimaginable human rights abuses.

Bill C-36 would clarify that it would not acceptable for those with money and power to buy sexual services from those without money and power.

I stand in support of this message and of a society that does not tolerate the many harms and abuses associated with prostitution. It will come at no surprise that I stand in support of Bill C-36.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague from Ottawa—Orléans for his speech. I do not agree with him, but his speech was well thought out.

Unfortunately, the bill before us does not seem to reflect the Supreme Court's ruling, which dealt with the safety of women and not with criminalizing prostitution. As the parliamentary secretary and member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe said, this does not prevent women from engaging in prostitution in a protected area away from the street.

As pointed out in the Supreme Court ruling and the testimony, a safe and secure place is not necessarily a place where women can engage in prostitution.

Does the member agree with the leader of the NDP, who says that the bill should better reflect the Supreme Court's ruling and not just focus on criminalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, this bill clearly does not criminalize sex workers. The bill criminalizes the pimps—the people who profit off of these vulnerable people.

I have been here for nearly nine years. In everything I do here I try to help the most vulnerable people. I do not understand why members of the official opposition cannot recognize that the most vulnerable members of society are those who are forced to sell their bodies. These people will not be criminalized by this bill. This bill will criminalize those who abuse these vulnerable people and who mistreat them with impunity.

When I was a municipal councillor, I was against objectifying women. I did the same as a library trustee, and I will do the same here, in Parliament.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I shake my head at the member's comments. He talks about the fact that this does not criminalized those individuals who are involved in the sex trade, and that is true. However, the end result of this legislation would certainly put their safety and security at extreme risk. This is the reality.

The Minister of Justice, when he was announcing the bill, said something along the lines of “prostitution ends here”. Are the Conservatives dreaming in Technicolor? This legislation would drive the trade underground and put at risk the safety and security of those individuals. The government has failed to look at that point.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand why the objectification of women should be a proposal in the House.

We are trying to protect the most vulnerable people in society. We are doing this, not by punishing them but by punishing all those around them who profit from their misery. I wish that the ideology of those who would want to objectify women would get out of the way and help us to do this and protect them.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, before I start my remarks, my gosh, would it not be great if we could just legislate love, friendliness, and so on? However, we cannot just pass a bill and then things happen out there. There is a real world.

Anyway, the subject at hand is Bill C-36, and I want to touch on the first three key points in the summary:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, (a) create an offence that prohibits purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose; (b) create an offence...

—subject to several exceptions—

...that prohibits receiving a material benefit that derived from the commission of an offence referred to in paragraph (a); (c) create an offence that prohibits the advertisement of sexual services offered for sale and to authorize the courts to order the seizure of materials containing such advertisements and their removal from the Internet....

Then there are several other sections, but I wanted to mention that to be sure that we understand where we are.

By way of background, it is critical to reference the now-famous Bedford case. This case is the reason we are here today.

The Criminal Code outlawed communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution, living on the avails of prostitution, and operating a brothel.

In a landmark case, a group of sex workers brought forth a charter challenge arguing that those three aforementioned provisions of the Criminal Code put, in the view of sex workers, their safety and security at risk, thereby violating their charter rights.

In its landmark decision last December, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with those sex workers and consequently struck down those three Criminal Code provisions, determining that they violated section 7 of the charter, which protects “life, liberty and security of the person”.

The Supreme Court suspended that ruling from coming into force for a period of one year in order to give Parliament the opportunity to enact new legislation if it chose to do so, and this past June, the Attorney General introduced this bill, Bill C-36.

I want to spell something out in the beginning. It has never happened before, I am sure, but there is some confusion over the Liberal position, so let me be clear: we do not favour the legalization of prostitution.

My colleague, the member for Charlottetown, made it clear that the government will do basically what it will because it controls the majority in both the House and the Senate. All of us in this place know that is what happens. We have seen at the committee hearings that the government seems to be taking the position of going full speed ahead on the optics rather than on the detail of what this new law may or may not do.

I believe what we have before us today will actually put the new law in the same place as the old law: because the government would not refer it to the Supreme Court, it will eventually be challenged and go there, and again we will be back here, in another Parliament at another date, trying to pass a law on this subject again.

There has been a fair bit of discussion on this issue. I have had many people in my office talking about their concerns, including sex workers and those who represent sex workers. The constituents in my riding are certainly on both sides of the issue. Some think the government's proposal is not bad and others think it is absolutely terrible. However, I can certainly say that sex workers who are in the business, some of them by desire and some not, are extremely afraid where the bill leaves them, and that is afraid for their safety and security.

In my view, the government did not do the in-depth consultations necessary in the beginning. It consulted, as it usually does, with those who tend to agree with its approach to criminal justice.

I have gone through some of the committee minutes. Based on what we have before us today, the government also did not listen to the witnesses who appeared before the committee, because we have virtually the same bill that went to committee. There were a lot of good suggestions coming out of the committee, and none of them were really listened to.

It is a little off track, but I had the opportunity this summer to attend a number of Canada-U.S. meetings with the Council of State Governments Justice Center. What I find remarkable about some of the states is that they are taking a different approach to justice. I would like to read one section from one of its papers. The paper is called “Lessons from the States: Reducing Recidivism and Curbing Corrections Costs Through Justice Reinvestment”, and it applies to our approach to criminal justice in Canada. This is what it says:

A number of these states have responded with “justice reinvestment” strategies to reduce corrections costs, revise sentencing policies, and increase public safety. Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach that ensures that policymaking is based on a comprehensive analysis of criminal justice data and the latest research about what works to reduce crime....

The reason I read that is because this bill is going in the opposite direction. It is based on optics, not detail.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are about to stand up for question period, so I will finish later.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, before question period, I outlined the government's attempt to push forward Bill C-36 on the basis of optics rather than the reality of the world.

I outlined as well the fact that the government has failed to listen to evidence provided at committee on the safety and security of those involved in the sex trade, and on the constitutionality of the bill. I feel the new law will end up where the old law did, and that is, it will likely be tossed out.

Let me quote what a couple of other people said.

John Ivison in the National Post wrote that the member for Central Nova's role:

—as Attorney General of Canada requires him to be the guardian of the rule of law. He is mandated to protect the personal liberties of Canadians and advise Cabinet to ensure its actions are legal and constitutional.

By introducing a new law on prostitution that is all but certain to be struck down by the courts, he has failed on all counts....

This bill is likely to make life even more unsafe for many prostitutes. If they can’t advertise their services to persuade the johns to come to them, many more are likely to take to the streets in search of business.

What he is speaking to is the safety and security of citizens. We cannot judge morally, but the fact of the matter is that it is responsibility of government to protect the safety and security of individuals. This bill does not do that. It makes it worse.

The other statement is by Michael Den Tandt for Postmedia News. He said:

Because C-36, in its effect, will be no different than the laws it is intended to replace, it is bound to wind up back at the Supreme Court – where it will quite likely be tossed, just as the old laws were tossed. So, why bring it forward?

He went on to say:

Calculated for political gain it may be; that doesn’t make it right. Until it is overturned, C-36 can only put prostitutes at greater risk. It is irrational, misguided and recidivist social policy, in a country that has gotten used to better.

There are several other quotes that came up at committee. I would refer members and Canadians to look at some of the statements made at committee with respect to the constitutionality of this legislation. There was an analysis provided at the committee on constitutional concerns. Individuals should look at that.

This law is not doing what it should do. It is very problematic. I ask the government to reconsider it. Let us just do it right.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments by the hon. member for Malpeque.

I wonder if the member shares my concern that this legislation is likely to be thrown out by the Supreme Court. It is going to make sex work more dangerous, and there will be a whole bunch of harm done in the period of time of maybe two to four years before this question is back before the Supreme Court.

Does the member share that concern?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I work with this particular member on the public safety and national security committee, and I will admit that over time I have begun to realize that we do share many of the same concerns.

He is absolutely right in this case. I do not know if the Department of Justice or the ministers or the government backbenchers on the other side just did not allow themselves to meet with people who are in the sex trade because they are opposed to it—and it is acceptable to be opposed to it, for sure—but these individuals in the sex trade are fearful of what this bill would do. It would drive prostitution, the sex trade, underground, make it much more risky for those individuals involved, and certainly risk their public safety.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will quote from the analysis:

The concern of the Charter and the Court is not whether prostitution is good or moral, the concern is the right to safety of all Canadians, which the Charter enshrines. C-36 also creates some new issues of constitutional validity.

At the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, legal experts suggested that there are a number of charter issues. They relate to life, liberty, and security of the person; they relate to equality rights; they relate to freedom of expression; they relate to the presumption of innocence; and they relate to cruel and unusual punishment. Legal people have all identified those areas as concerns with regard to constitutionality.

I would like to make one other point. One of the members from Manitoba spoke on human smuggling and the fact that some people are forced into the sex trade. That is absolutely true, and that is repulsive.

I did a study on human smuggling and individuals who get forced into the trade. The problem is that be as it may, this bill would not prevent that from happening. In fact, the bill would worsen the safety of those individuals, and that is what we have to be concerned about.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to pick up on what my friend from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca talked about in terms of the constitutional provisions, or lack thereof, in this bill.

We have asked the Minister of Justice a number of times in the House of Commons to provide Canadians with any evidence that this measure has been through a constitutional check. For those watching, the reason this is so important is that the current government has become very good at writing laws that are unconstitutional. We go through the whole exercise of drafting these bills and going through the committee process, where the Conservatives ignore the witnesses and ram the bill through anyway. Then, lo and behold, it gets a constitutional challenge, a charter challenge, and it fails.

If the minister is so concerned about all the victims of this particular crime, then we would think he would want to have legislation that would improve their lives and their lot in life. That means they need legislation that actually becomes law and maintains itself as a law.

This question is for my friend. Did the committee at any point see evidence from the Government of Canada, the Conservative Party, that shows that this bill would in fact survive a constitutional check and actually become law in this country, and remain there?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, no, I certainly have not been made aware of that constitutionality reference or check.

The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca is absolutely right. That constitutional reference would have ensured that this House of Commons would pass a measure that is likely not to be turned down by the courts and do it right, a measure that would not, as the member said earlier, put the safety of individuals in greater jeopardy for several years.

I would actually make the accusation of the government that it is doing this for political purposes, because it sounds good. The Conservatives are doing it for political optics, and in the process they are risking the safety and security of individuals, people whom they may not like but who are Canadians regardless.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
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Durham Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to speak to the House on Bill C-36, which, as members of the House know, is the government's response to what is known as the Bedford decision. That is a decision of the Supreme Court from last December that struck down several Criminal Code provisions related to prostitution, such as solicitation and living off of the avails.

It seems that my friends in the House, rather than looking at the substance of this bill, started looking at future charter challenges. They should look at what the Supreme Court did. In fact, it invited Parliament to step in and fill the void caused by its striking down of some of these provisions under the charter. It gave Parliament one year to come up with adequate rules to address the social harms that are caused by prostitution.

All members of the House would agree that when it comes to human trafficking and exploitation, there are vast and immense risks for Canadians within prostitution and the sex trade. It is important for Parliament to make sure that the public good and public safety are protected.

What happened was the creation of the Canadian model. After consultations within the department, with stakeholder groups, and with people who have worked with women who have left the sex trade, the Canadian model was our government's response to the invitation from the Supreme Court of Canada to make laws to protect vulnerable Canadians.

I will take a few moments to talk about the main pillars of Bill C-36, which is our response.

First, it would criminalize demand. This is recognizing that in the vast majority of cases, the prostitutes—mainly women, but some young men as well—are victims. Law enforcement resources and criminal justice resources should not be focused on them but on exploitation, so the first pillar is to try to stem demand by focusing on the johns and criminalizing that activity.

The second is to criminalize exploitation in prostitution. We have heard some members of Parliament talk about human trafficking, the traditional pimps, and the people who lure young women into this trade and entrap them in it.

The third is a restriction on advertising sexual services and their sale. An important distinction in the Canadian model is the criminalization of communication in public places for the purposes of prostitution when children could reasonably be expected to be in those public places. This bill would ensure that certain public areas would not see the sex trade on a daily basis.

There are increased penalties for child prostitution. I am sure that all members of the House agree with that provision of Bill C-36.

There is a clear message in the bill to immunize prostitutes and sex workers themselves, recognizing, as I said earlier, that most often they are victims in this trade.

Finally and, perhaps, most importantly, the seventh pillar that I take from Bill C-36 is direct aid. There would be $20 million to begin with to help with transitional work for some of the vulnerable people who feel that there is no way out of the trade that they might have been lured or exploited into. Some of the exceptional Canadians, volunteers, and groups working with them would receive this money to help people transition.

My friend from Malpeque said that this bill does not see the reality of the world. Some of the MPs in the NDP seem to think that this measure is bound to be struck down at a future date by a court because it is a Conservative ploy or some political ploy. If those members of the opposition actually looked at the substance of Bill C-36, they would see that Canada is not really out of step in trying to deal with the harms of prostitution.

In many ways, the Canadian model builds on the Nordic model, which was introduced in Sweden in 1999 and followed subsequently by Norway and Iceland. These are European countries we have strong relationships with, free and democratic societies that have tried to address the social harms of prostitution through a model that criminalizes the demand and goes after the exploiters, not the women.

In 2014, the EU and the Council of Europe actually recommended the Nordic model, on which our model in Bill C-36 is clearly heavily based, to all member countries, so I would suggest that the NDP and Liberals are the ones who need to hit the reality of the world when it comes to how to address the evils and the harms caused within the sex trade.

The bill is supported by leading figures among those who try to deal with human trafficking and exploitation. It is supported by many people who work as advocates in abuse centres and rehabilitation shelters. The Canadian Police Association firmly supports it.

Members of Parliament have been reaching out and talking to stakeholders. I met with sex workers to hear their perspective. They were very earnest in their presentations to me, and I appreciated that. I also listened to law enforcement and researched the Nordic model, as every MP should.

I would like to thank a constituent of mine from Newcastle, Tony Ryta. I have had several exchanges with Tony, a 32-year veteran with the Toronto Police Service who for decades worked with vulnerable women on the streets in Toronto. He sees the Canadian model that we are bringing in response to the Bedford decision as a way that will reduce harm. That should be all parliamentarians' goal in this place. I would like to thank Tony, law enforcement workers from across the country, and people working in shelters and with abused women for their work in getting vulnerable Canadians out of this trade.

Finally, this topic goes to the root of parliamentarians as Canadians. I am the MP for Durham, but I am also a proud father of an eight-year-old girl, who is the apple of my eye. I cannot stand in the House and say that there is any public good in creating and promoting a legalized sex trade. In fact, it is abhorrent to suggest to young women that the sex trade should be an industry that is worth consideration. I want my young daughter to sit in the House one day, perhaps on the front bench, to go further than her old man.

Young women can do anything in this country, and supporting the normalization of sex work is not in the public good.

It reminds me of philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said, “No person is an entirely isolated being”. Ms. Bedford and a few sex workers who may feel that they are empowered and that there are no social harms from their participation in the sex trade do not speak for homeless aboriginal youth in Winnipeg. They do not speak for abused women who have been forced into sex work by pimps, in some cases by ex-boyfriends. They do not speak for the vulnerable, and the vulnerable are the vast majority of people drawn into prostitution.

As parliamentarians, it is our duty to ensure that our response to the Supreme Court decision in Bedford is a response that reduces harm and that discourages people from going into a practice that has drugs and crime at its centre. I once again say that I do not think our response as a Parliament should be to normalize the sex trade as an option for many of our young people and young women. That is certainly not why I ran for Parliament.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have what I consider to be a rather pertinent question for my colleague.

From his speech, we can see that he truly believes that criminalization will actually help eliminate prostitution. I personally do not believe that to be true. There are many things that are against the law but are done anyway in our society. I do not think the bill will fix things. In my opinion, the only thing it will do is make people working in prostitution even more vulnerable. How are we going to protect these people?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, our laws are there for a variety of reasons. We have laws on the books that are broken, Violent offences, like murder and manslaughter, still take place, but what laws represent is, in many ways, an attempt to discourage these activities, to show society's condemnation of some conduct. In this case, we are trying to show condemnation of exploitation around prostitution.

Will it root out every case? Absolutely not. I would be foolhardy to even suggest that.

However, this approach, the Canadian model, looks at the successes and the approach that many countries with similar economies, similar populations, like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and others, have tried to take to reduce the social harm.

Will it eradicate it? No, but I think it is a responsible response from this government to the Bedford decision.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member opposite a question about the fact that approximately a year ago, France's national assembly passed identical legislation. When the bill, which criminalizes the purchase of sexual services, went to the upper house—the French senate—it rejected the key provision, criminalization, and sent the bill back to the national assembly.

The member said that other countries similar to Canada have legislation or are going in the same direction as this legislation. However, the French senate recently looked at the key provision and realized that it was absurd and should be withdrawn from the legislation.

Can the member explain to us how Canada's approach is the same as the one being used by other countries that have similar problems?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the member's discussion of France and the French experience shows that each country is trying to address the harms inherent in prostitution in a variety of ways.

This model, Bill C-36, is very similar to what Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and some others have tried. As I said in my remarks, the Council of Europe actually recommended it for its wider 47 members, as an attempt to reduce harm and to get at exploitation, specifically. It is not a perfect solution, but it is one that has been studied carefully to try to minimize the demand for services that has led to exploitation.

I would also add that we have made it a critical part of Bill C-36 that transitional funding, $20 million, would be there to help people to transition out of sex work. This is a critical part of this discussion. We have to show the vulnerable that there are alternatives and we have to support groups who are already helping people make that transition.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking today about the government's response to the Bedford decision and its amendments to sections of the Criminal Code concerning prostitution.

The summary of Bill C-36 says the following:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, (a) create an offence that prohibits purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose;

As I said earlier when I asked my colleague a question, there will always be things that are against the law but are done anyway in our society. This bill does not necessarily provide a solution because this is not how we are going to get rid of prostitution. That will never happen.

I think that in this type of situation, it might make more sense to take a harm reduction approach instead of a repressive approach like the one the government has proposed.

In addition, this bill flies in the face of the Supreme Court decision and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court asked the minister to go back to the drawing board and find a real solution. Based on my reading of this bill, I can see that the minister did not do that. In fact, he even said that he expects this bill to be challenged in court. This is really messed up. I do not understand how we even got to this point considering the number of options that could have been explored and the number of things that could have been done. There have been so many discussions about all of this that I just do not understand how we got to this point.

Many legal experts were consulted, along with stakeholder groups, sex workers, and authorities with an interest in this bill. Over 75 witnesses appeared before the committee. How did we even get to this point when most of the witnesses said that they do not believe in this bill?

When it comes to this bill and to many of the bills that have been introduced in the past three years, I have to wonder why the government is not listening to the experts. Why is it not listening to the people who are actually in the situation? I do not understand, and as an MP, I take issue with this. The minister should have gotten the information he needed and consulted people. That would have been to his credit. It is easy to consult people, to sit down with them and listen to them, but what is the point if the government does not really listen and just pushes the agenda it had from the start? It is easy to say that people were consulted, but nothing was done as a result.

We on this side of the House are pretty unanimous. We all agree that the measures announced by the Conservatives to help prostitutes get out of prostitution are grossly inadequate. They do not address the real problem. As I was saying earlier, this new bill creates new offences related to prostitution, specifically purchasing sexual services, receiving a material benefit, advertising sexual services and communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in a public place. In my opinion, the real problem is that people who work in the sex industry are being more and more marginalized.

As I said earlier, there are many illegal things that are done in our society in any case. We cannot get around that by simply criminalizing everything. This reminds me of the prohibition period in the United States. In the 1930s, there was a huge spike in smuggling and alcohol-related problems. As soon as prohibition was lifted, the problems died down. In the end, people realized that the law was unnecessary. The situation we are in right now is similar, for the Conservatives want to marginalize men and women who really could use a helping hand. We also need to remember that some people are in it by choice. I think we need to respect that.

One of the measures announced was a $20 million investment to help prostitutes get out of the sex industry, but that is not enough to solve everything. Concrete action is needed. We need to properly consult the people involved. What do these people really need? Do they want to get out or are they there by choice? Where are we headed? This bill does not address these questions at all.

We also need to commit significant resources: income support, education and training, poverty alleviation, which I can never stress enough in this House, and substance abuse treatment for those in this group.

Rather than taking an approach that further marginalizes people who are already vulnerable, the government should instead work in partnership with those people to bring in a strategy to protect and support the men and women who are in this situation.

What we need is a nationwide discussion and genuine consultation on prostitution, on women's safety and on the fight against organized crime. That is what needs to be tackled.

According to Statistics Canada, 156 prostitutes have been murdered since 1991. That is 156 too many. If the practice were a bit more regulated, this type of crime could likely be prevented or at least reduced.

It is much more difficult to obtain recent statistics on other crimes related to prostitution, such as assault and rape, because the people involved are marginalized. It is like trying to collect statistics on homelessness. It is more difficult because these people do not always fill out a census form.

However, John Lowman, a professor at Simon Fraser University and expert on prostitution, has indicated that the data on crime against prostitutes are overwhelming. This type of crime is the problem that we need to deal with.

Forcing these women deeper into the shadows will put them in even more danger and these numbers will grow. That is not what we want. The government needs to protect its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable among them, as is the case here.

Prostitution has always existed and it will continue to exist, whether we are for or against it. We therefore need to regulate it and protect the health and safety of these workers.

In my opinion, Bill C-36 fails to do that and puts many lives in danger.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague across the way and she is focused on sex trade workers being marginalized. There are different models around the world and some have been somewhat successful, like the Nordic model. Canada's proposal is similar to the Nordic model, in that it focuses on the johns and the pimps as opposed to the prostitutes. It is one of the few models that actually work, in that it makes it much safer. It still is a very high-risk vocation. As the member pointed out, it likely would never disappear.

However, I have heard from a number of my constituents who support the Nordic model and have encouraged Canada to consider the Nordic model. Our government has a made-in-Canada model, but it is very similar. Would the member support the Nordic model and if not, why not?

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September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would not support such a model. As I said in my speech, I am much more in favour of harm reduction than repression. I do not believe that repression can work in a society, either from a safety perspective or from a perspective of preventing the marginalization of the most vulnerable individuals.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my colleague's speech. I think that her conclusions are of particular interest. We often hear from the other side of the House that the bill before us is based on the Nordic model. Quite frankly, that is far from the truth. It is outright criminalization of prostitution. Unfortunately, the bill does not in any way respond to the Supreme Court ruling.

I was wondering whether my colleague could comment on the fact that the Conservatives are not listening to the Supreme Court. The NDP has said many times that we should respect Supreme Court rulings and rely on them in order to take the right approach when drafting our bills.

Does my colleague agree that the bill before us does not reflect the Supreme Court ruling and requires drastic changes to gain the support of Canadians?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. The bill needs to be greatly improved. As my colleague mentioned, it does not really follow the Nordic model. That model is not ideal either.

As I was saying, there has to be real consultation. We must listen to the people involved in this situation and consider what they say. That is very important. We must also work with the Supreme Court, which does a great job. As legislators, I find that we are really in no position to disregard the Supreme Court and say that we are going to move forward nonetheless. That is not the ideal way to go about this.

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September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the debate with great interest. We know the Supreme Court has struck down our existing rules and we know we need new rules. We have come up with what we believe is a solution that would deal with this.

However, from what I hear from the New Democrats, is their position that we should legalize it? They speak very nice words and have very generic kinds of comments, but I have not heard what they believe we should do. Is the hon. member saying legalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need a regulated system and consultation. I have said this over and over again. I am almost tired of hearing myself say that. We must consult the people to know what they need, and we have to regulate this profession to protect the health and safety of the men and women who make their living from prostitution.

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September 26th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the report stage debate in support of Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 was studied by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in July 2014, and pre-studied by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs in September.

The bill is well on its way toward enactment before the expiry of the Supreme Court of Canada's one-year suspension of its December 20, 2013 Bedford decision, which would otherwise result in decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities in Canada.

Bill C-36 places Canada among other like-minded jurisdictions that have taken, or are considering taking, an approach that treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that targets the victims, primarily women and girls, including those disadvantaged by socio-economic factors, such as youth, poverty, drug addiction or a history of abuse. Such an approach aspires to abolish prostitution as a harmful gendered practice. It has been garnering widespread international support, and not just in those countries that have implemented it.

For example, in March 2014, an all-party parliamentary report in the United Kingdom recommended implementation of a version of this approach. Both the Council of Europe and the European parliament have endorsed it. This is not just because the approach has been effective in achieving its objectives, it is also because it avoids the negative effects of the alternative: decriminalization or legalization.

Research shows that decriminalization and legalization lead to growth of the sex industry. Demand increases in a decriminalized or legalized regime, as does the supply required to meet that demand, which is disproportionately drawn from vulnerable populations. The result is an increase in the exploitation of vulnerable groups.

Facilitating prostitution for those who claim to freely choose it results in a greater number of those who do not freely choose it being subjected to prostitution. This is what would happen in Canada if we failed to respond to the Bedford decision.

Research also shows that decriminalization and legalization are linked to higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

There is significant profit to be made from prostituting the disempowered who are so often unable to enforce their rights, and the unscrupulous stop at nothing to maximize their profits. They may tout themselves as a helper or legitimate bodyguard, but it is in their interest to encourage and even coerce the prostitution of those they claim to protect. This is another reason why a regime that treats sex work as a legitimate profession results in higher rates of exploitative conducts. Exploiters can hide behind a veneer of legitimacy.

Some who disagree with the approach of Bill C-36 have said that it is bad policy to work toward abolishing prostitution when some freely choose to sell their own sexual services and are content with that choice. The two committees that studied Bill C-36 heard from some individuals who said that they chose sex work as their profession and that they should not be prevented from earning a living in the manner of their choosing.

I accept that some support decriminalization and condone the trade in sexual services between consenting adults, but I do not accept that such a policy choice is better for everyone implicated in the prostitution industry, including the communities in which it is practised and society as large.

All agree that those subjected to prostitution disproportionately come from marginalized backgrounds, and all agree that high levels of violence and trauma are associated with involvement in prostitution. The disagreement lies in how the law should address these serious concerns.

Why does Bill C-36 reject decriminalization in favour of an approach that treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation? The research on jurisdictions that have decriminalized or legalized prostitution provides one answer to this question.

As I have already outlined, research shows that decriminalization is linked to growth in the sex industry and higher rates of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. That means an increase in vulnerable people being drawn into prostitution, an increase in abuse of those in positions of vulnerability, an increase in use of coercive practices to draw the vulnerable in and keep them in, and at the end of that continuum of exploitative conduct, an increase in human trafficking. Bill C-36 would prevent the harmful effects of decriminalization.

Those individuals who claim to freely choose prostitution also say that they do not need its proposed prostitution offences. They say that offences such as human trafficking, forcible confinement, assault and sexual assault provide them with sufficient protection against abuse while involved in a trade that is well known for that abuse. That may be so for those who have some control over the sale of their own sexual services, but what about those who do not?

We know from the committee hearings that many do not choose prostitution. Many are subjected to it by force meted out by those who would profit from this trade or because of seriously constrained options from which to choose. Should we afford this group the law's protection only once someone has committed a violent offence against them and how do we ensure they are sufficiently empowered to report such abuse when it occurs?

It has been well recognized, including by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 1992 Downey decision, that the fear of reprisal from exploitative third parties too often keeps the exploited silent. They are afraid, and understandably so. Exploiters have an obvious incentive to keep the vulnerable in prostitution and many do so through horrific forms of abuse.

How do we stop this trajectory? The answer is simple. We say “no” to prostitution by targeting those who fuel the demand for it and those who profit from the trade. Bill C-36 would do that. It prioritizes those who do not choose prostitution.

Prostitution targets the vulnerable, so Bill C-36 targets those who buy their sexual services and those who capitalize on the sale of those services. This means that law enforcement has the tools required to intervene before any member of that vulnerable group is assaulted, sexually assaulted, forcibly confined or trafficked and can prevent the more serious crimes associated with prostitution from happening in the first place.

These are the reasons why Bill C-36 says “no” to decriminalization. These are the reasons why Bill C-36 says “no” to prostitution. Put simply, there are too many risks associated with this practice. A burgeoning sex industry means: an increase in vulnerable persons selling their own sexual services because of lack of meaningful options, or through force; a corresponding increase in the violence and trauma caused by subjection to prostitution; an increase in associated crime, such as drug related offences and human trafficking; and the normalization of a gendered practice that implicates the equality rights of those vulnerable groups so at risk of subjection to it.

I stand with those survivors, some of whom courageously testified before both committees and detailed the horrific abuse they suffered in prostitution. They have told their stories again and again to ensure that this type of abuse stops. They also told the committee that Bill C-36 would send a message. The message is that we are all deserving of dignity, equality and respect. The law should not allow the powerful to use and abuse the less powerful.

I ask my colleagues to stand with me and the brave women who shared their stories of pain and suffering to improve Canadian society. I ask my colleagues to join me in support of Bill C-36.

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September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. Of course, we have rather different views on the approach, but there is one thing we might agree on, and that is the support that could be given to the women who want to get out of this industry.

Does my colleague not believe that the proposal to allocate $20 million, which would have to be shared among 10 provinces and three territories, is completely ridiculous? That could well have been the cornerstone for a bill that would bring about real change.

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September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the $20 million in new funding to assist sellers of sexual services is in addition to other related federal initiatives, including the national action plan to combat human trafficking, the national crime prevention strategy, the victims' fund, the aboriginal justice strategy and funding to address the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The provinces and territories, which are primarily responsible for the delivery of many of the services needed by persons seeking to exit prostitution, such as housing, social and medical services, occupational training and victim services, also provide significant resources.

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September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP highlighted that it wanted regulations and harm reduction regarding prostitution. It sounds to me that those members want legalization with harm reduction.

What has my colleague heard from her constituents and from Canadians, particularly with respect to consultation that went on prior to Bill C-36? I heard that Canadians do not want prostitution to be legalized. They want to follow the Nordic model. What has my colleague heard? What does she think of the NDP's position of legalization?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the debate about the harmful effects of prostitution has been long-standing, long before the Bedford decision was handed down and the one-year suspension. I have heard from community organizations, individuals and communities. They are calling for a change to our prostitution laws as the awareness of their harmful effects continues to grow.

Bill C-36 would put Canada squarely among other jurisdictions that have taken, or are considering taking, an approach that would treat prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that targets the victims, primarily women and girls, including those disadvantaged by socio-economic factors such as youth, poverty, drug addiction or a history of abuse. This approach aspires to abolish prostitution as a harmful gendered practice and avoids the negative effects of decriminalization or legalization.

I call upon all members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party to support this important piece of legislation.

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September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the parliamentary secretary's views and concerns for those who are affected by prostitution. I take her on her word that she is concerned about these things. One would assume then that the bill that the government has brought forward would be a charter-proof bill, a bill that would pass a charter challenge, in order to come into law and then affect those that she is concerned about. We have sought evidence that the government knows and has good confidence that the bill would pass through a Supreme Court challenge. Otherwise, this is all for naught. All her words, all the gestures within the act are meaningless if the bill can never be enacted into law and maintained in law.

Would the member be able to provide the House with some evidence, some advice given to her by the justice department and counsel, that the bill is constitutional and thereby will change the lives of the people we are talking about today?

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September 26th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember that Bill C-36 is a made-in-Canada approach that has two essential parts. The first part is criminal law reform. The second part addresses support for vulnerable persons to help them leave prostitution. This two-pronged approach aims to criminalize those who fuel and perpetuate the demand for prostitution through the purchase of sexual services and to protect those who sell their own sexual services, vulnerable persons and communities from the harm associated with prostitution.

The legislation is our government's comprehensive approach toward addressing prostitution. I encourage that member to support it.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak against Bill C-36 at report stage. I am really glad to have an opportunity to do so despite the Conservatives' use of time allocation once again.

I remain opposed to the government's rush to recriminalize sex work in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case. Once again with Bill C-36, the government has refused to listen to the Supreme Court, which sent a clear message in the Bedford decision that sex workers have the right to safety and should not have their situation made more dangerous by having new prescriptions put in the Criminal Code.

Like most Canadians, I could not tune in to all this summer's justice committee hearings, but I did hear and see a great deal of testimony, and I read much more of it. I was struck by two things. The first was the selective nature of the government's witnesses, most of whom had experienced a great tragedy concerning a family member who had been involved in sex work or who themselves had been victims of crime while involved in sex work.

Each of these stories, for me, had a common theme. I do not in any way wish to diminish the extent of the harm suffered by those individuals who testified. In each of these cases, the harm done was the result of a criminal act that was and would remain a criminal act whether or not there are restrictions placed on sex work in the Criminal Code. Murder remains illegal. Assault remains illegal. Human trafficking and coercion remain illegal.

I draw a different conclusion from these tragic stories than members of the government side. What these stories tell me is that we ought to do everything we can to make sure that sex work is safer. That is the theme of the Bedford decision from the Supreme Court.

The second theme I noticed coming from both government witnesses and from government members themselves was the tendency to label all sex workers as victims, to see them as poor, unfortunate people who need to be saved.

Most of the sex workers, themselves, who testified rejected this label of victim. Many asserted that they chose sex work, some entirely freely and some as a result of the limited choices they had in front of them, but the vast majority of sex workers emphasized their own choice, their own autonomy, their own control over their lives, and they have been very clear that they wish to retain or enhance that freedom to choose for themselves.

Just this week, we had an important research study released, which had been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Researchers interviewed 218 sex workers in six communities across the country, plus 1,252 clients and 80 police officers. This is actual evidence with regard to sex work. The researchers found that sex workers, in general, overwhelmingly rejected this characterization as victims, with more than 80% of both sex workers and clients saying that sex workers control the terms of these transactions.

There was one other thing I noted in these hearings, though perhaps even more in the Senate pre-study hearings. I must say at times I felt that sex workers who appeared were shown an astonishing lack of respect by Conservative committee members. This has been communicated back to me as a member of Parliament directly by more than one witness who appeared.

As I said in debate at second reading, I have long had contact with sex workers in my riding, stretching back to my days as a city councillor. In my community, we are fortunate to have a sex worker-run self-help organization called PEERS. PEERS is an acronym that probably still means something formal but in our community it has simply come to mean an organization that cares for and helps those involved in sex work.

PEERS has offered everything from bad date lists to a drop-in centre to education and housing assistance. Unfortunately, like many valuable organizations in the community, PEERS is now struggling with severe funding issues. The amount the government has allocated, $20 million, will do little to help out these organizations in their very important work.

As a result of my contact with PEERS, I have had several opportunities to meet with sex workers to discuss the Bedford decision, both before it came out and then after it came down, as well as this legislation before it came to second reading. Before speaking today, I was fortunate to be able to participate, last Friday, in a community forum organized by PEERS, called “Decriminalizing the Sex Industry: Beyond the Myths and Misconceptions”. The format was a diverse panel of eight members responding to audience questions after some brief opening statements. The panel was moderated by Jody Paterson, one of the founding sisters of PEERS, and someone I much admire for taking her journalism and turning it into advocacy for sex workers.

I have to say I was surprised to find more than 120 people in attendance at a panel on a very sunny Friday afternoon. I was privileged to be one of the panel members as it gave me a chance to interact with seven real experts on sex work, and to learn from their experience. There were three sex workers, or former sex workers, on the panel: Catherine Healy, the national coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective; Natasha Potvin, a PEERS board member; and Lisa Ordell, a Métis woman and registered massage therapist. The panel also included Staff Sergeant Todd Wellman, head of the Victoria Police Department's special victims unit; and Gillian Calder, a professor of family and constitutional law at the University of Victoria.

It also included two scientific researchers on sex work: Dr. Sarah Hunt, a Kwagiulth researcher who has done work with first nations women involved in sex work for more than 20 years; and Chris Atchison from the University of Victoria Department of Sociology, one of the researchers on the study that was published this week.

I spent a lot of time describing this panel in the House today because this panel, and indeed virtually every person attending the forum, agreed on some common themes and a common conclusion. Their conclusion was that Bill C-36 would make the lives of sex workers even more dangerous.

Professor Calder made it clear that the Supreme Court sent us in the House a clear message that it was our responsibility not to re-criminalize sex work, but to legislate it in a way that makes sex work safer and provides greater protection for the rights of sex workers.

I have already spoken of Chris Atchison's study and its rejection of the argument that sex workers are ipso facto victims. He also spoke eloquently of the direct connection between sex workers being able to communicate openly with their clients and the safety of their work. His research shows how criminalizing johns would make that communication inevitably more furtive, more hurried and therefore make sex work more dangerous.

Staff Sergeant Wellman spoke eloquently from his perspective as a 27-year veteran police officer and his five years as the head of a special victims unit. He identified the importance of sex workers feeling able to communicate freely with police. If that is not the case, he stressed, investigating things like violence and exploitation of sex workers becomes even more difficult for the police; and preventing the kinds of tragedies that many government witnesses spoke about becomes nearly impossible. Clearly those provisions in Bill C-36 that criminalize sex workers would make police work harder.

Dr. Sarah Hunt challenged us to ask those national first nations organizations that have expressed support for this bill to demonstrate that they have actually spoken to first nations women involved in sex work or in sex work research and support roles. She challenged their right to speak for first nations without doing this work. The very presence of two first nations women on this panel spoke volumes about whether those claims to speak for all first nations women should be accepted.

Catherine Healy, in turn, challenged us to ask those who cite New Zealand as a negative example of the impacts of legalizing sex work to present their evidence. She clearly showed that the evidence in fact shows a reduction in violence against women in the sex industry in New Zealand. She challenged the assertions made before us in this House that there has been an increase in underage women in sex work in New Zealand or an increase in trafficking of women to New Zealand as entirely without foundation, as simply false.

Let me begin to close by citing just two more things from the forum. One was the importance of a safe space it created for sex workers, like Natasha Potvin and Lisa Ordell and members of the audience, to tell their stories. There was moving testimony in the form of Lisa Ordell's mother simply showing up and identifying herself as “Lisa's mother” in order to support her daughter. There was moving testimony from audience members about the stigma attached to being a sex worker, and the resulting social isolation, making their struggles to escape alcoholism, addiction and violence even more difficult.

My conclusion is that our decision on Bill C-36 should not be about whether any of us like or do not like sex work. Instead, it should be based on what would make these women, men and transgendered Canadians who are already involved in sex work safer, whatever their story, however they arrived there.

I want to close with some questions we must ask ourselves as members of Parliament before we vote on this bill.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to conduct negotiations with potential clients in ways that allow them to be sure of who they are dealing with and in ways that help them avoid bad dates? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to communicate openly with police when they need protection against violence, coercion and exploitation? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would sex workers be able to participate in society without the stigma attached to their work denying them access to services and rights that the rest of us enjoy without a thought? This would help keep them safe.

As a result of Bill C-36, would there be less violence against women in Canada?

For me, Bill C-36 clearly fails on all these counts. I am sorry that this bill will pass this Parliament. I am even sorrier for the harm that will result in the time it will take to challenge it in court, and the time it will take for the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional, just as the Criminal Code provisions that preceded it were invalidated in the Bedford decision.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the long title.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the preamble.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 31.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.1.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 48.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 49.

Mr. Speaker, it is rare, and members of the House will know it, standing as the leader of the Green Party of Canada and member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands, that I have not availed myself of the opportunity to present amendments at committee stage under new rules that were adopted last fall. I have objected to the opportunity because it has not amounted to a real chance to amend legislation.

Nevertheless, on bills that I find disturbing, I have gone to every committee with amendments of a substantive nature. In the case of Bill C-36, I found I could not find a way to amend the bill in a way that would actually fix it. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that you have now read out attempts to delete the entire bill based on it being unfixable.

How do we find ourselves here? As we all know, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Bedford decision that our existing laws relating to prostitution were unconstitutional as they violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an important sentence that constitutes a fundamental principle for all Canadians: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

In the Bedford case, the Supreme Court determined that Canadian laws and the Criminal Code are inconsistent with this section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to sex workers who are threatened by current Canadian laws.

With the Supreme Court saying that our laws relating to prostitution did not adequately protect the rights of security of the person for people who found themselves in this very marginalized and difficult place in their lives and that they were even more marginalized, even more stigmatized and driven into the shadows by the status of laws over prostitution in Canada, it was up to us, as Parliament, to come up with an approach that would respect, would protect and would ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows.

After Bedford, I thought we would see a response from Parliament, a response from the Minister of Justice, that took into account the message from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ironically, earlier this morning, I attended an international symposium on the subject of gender violence and health. The symposium is taking place a few blocks from here, at the Novotel, on Nicholas Street. Researchers from across Canada are presenting research on this topic, with people from around the world. It is a collaborative social science project in Canada on gender violence and health. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

I was able to stay long enough, before coming here to debate Bill C-36, to hear the preliminary findings of that work being done across Canada. I was pleased to see that members from my own part of the world, from University of Victoria and from the city of Victoria Police Department had all participated in this work.

Their area of research was restricted to people in the sex trade industry who were over 19 and who were not part of the quite horrific trafficking in people who did not have rights. I want to make it really clear that in the Green Party's stance against Bill C-36, we believe the full measure of the law should be used to crack down on anyone who is exploiting minors and people in sex trafficking. We believe laws in that area must be strengthened and that the laws are adequate, even as they now stand, to differentiate the situations between prostitution, in general, and this group of exploited workers under 19 who are trafficked internationally and lack the rights they should have under the law.

Research has been done that is being reported on just today, as I mentioned. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It was collaborative work done in six different cities across Canada by some of our best social science researchers, who examined the lives of sex trade workers who were not under the age of 19 or involved in human trafficking.

What the institute found as a foundational piece of information in early research is intuitive and is what the Supreme Court of Canada understood. It is that any laws that are punitive in nature, anything that in our social context that would further stigmatize sex trade work, means that the people conducting themselves in that work are more vulnerable and are less able to access the supports and protections found in our society.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision made it clear what Parliament needed to do: Parliament needed to find a way to ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows and were not further stigmatized.

This is a tragedy, because we are talking about people's lives. We are not just talking about slogans for election campaigns or going for some sort of core vote from Conservative Party supporters. This issue transcends partisanship. This is about Parliament being asked by the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure that section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is respected when we bring forth laws that deal with prostitution.

On that fundamental requirement for our laws, Bill C-36 stands as a singular failure. It would absolutely not make the life of sex trade workers more secure. It goes in the wrong direction. As numerous legal commentators have noted, this law would make the sex trade more dangerous.

Just to give a sense of why that is, I would like to quote comments made by the Minister of Justice at a press conference on the day that Bill C-36 was tabled back in June. I am going to quote from an exchange that he had with a reporter.

The Minister of Justice said:

Some prostitutes we know are younger than 18 years of age. If they are in the presence of one another at 3:00 in the morning and are selling sexual services, they would be subject to arrest.

A reporter then asked:

That would still be considered a criminal offence?

The response from the Minister of Justice was:

That’s correct. They’re selling it in the presence of a minor.

The reporter said:

Okay, so if two 17-year-old prostitutes are standing side by side in the middle of the night in what is considered a public place, they will be committing an offence.

The response by the Minister of Justice:

And selling sex, yes.

A reporter said:

That’s effectively making them stay on their own and endangering furthering their own security.

The Minister of Justice:

Not at all. We’re not making them do anything. We’re not forcing them to sell sex.

That is a response in the absence of reality. If we are to take the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case seriously, then we should do everything possible to allow people in the sex trade industry to be with each other, to be near each other, to be protecting each other. There is a distinction between being on the street and indoor sex work. Anything that drives people in the sex trade industry onto the street and into the shadows is going to make their lives more dangerous.

This goes to the next piece of Bill C-36, which is likely unconstitutional: banning advertisement for sexual services and banning communicating for the purchasing of sex in particular.

Bill C-36 states that all of it would be illegal unless the sex trade workers are communicating directly. In other words, publishing their ads would be illegal. This again would force a prostitute to lose the intermediary. It would force the sex trade worker to lose the possibility of some form of screening, some way of ensuring they are not face-to-face in the shadows negotiating their situation. It would make their lives much more dangerous.

The decision in Bedford gave us guidance on this issue. The court said in Bedford:

By prohibiting communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution, the law prevents prostitutes from screening clients and setting terms for the use of condoms or safe houses. In these ways, it significantly increases the risks they face.

Bill C-36 is written as though the Supreme Court of Canada has given us no guidance, as though we are blundering around not imagining the narrowness of the ways in which communicating or advertising would remain legal in Canada.

It is as though the Bedford decision gave us no guidance, because what they have come up with is aimed at a new offence of advertising sexual services and is undoubtedly going to make life more dangerous for sex trade workers.

I could go on and on, but I know my time is at an end.

I just want to say that this law will only make the lives of hundreds of sex workers more difficult and more dangerous.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the member went on at some length to talk about specific provisions in the bill what would restrict prostitutes from communicating in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. Apparently she does not know that there was an amendment proposed and passed at the House justice committee on that very point that would restrict the communication in a public place provision to the schoolyard, the playground, and the daycare centre. I wonder if she could tell the House if she thinks it is a good idea that prostitutes be allowed, and perhaps encouraged, to communicate for the purposes of prostitution in those three places?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course I am aware of amendments that were passed. In the judgment of many within the legal profession, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association among others, while this change would narrow the scope, it remains a section of the law that would clearly not survive a charter challenge.

The use of daycares and preschools and so on is designed to create electioneering and slogans and does not pay attention to ensuring that the laws we pass in this place are constitutional.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Green Party colleague.

I am very happy to be part of the committee that studied Bill C-36 very closely. Several amendments were proposed, and many of them were ruled in order.

There was a debate about the amendments. Clearly, the government had no interest in accepting them, but the resulting debates were interesting. With a little good will, committee members could have mitigated the potentially negative impact of the bill as written by the government.

At the beginning of her speech, my colleague from the Green Party said that she thought the minister would have presented something that would have been in answer to the Bedford ruling, so I would like to ask the hon. member what, in her opinion, would have been the proper answer to that ruling.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. justice critic for the official opposition, who has done such strong work in so many areas of law in the country.

I and the Green Party think the kind of law we need is probably found most closely in the New Zealand law. I expected, by the way, to see something closer to what is described as the Nordic model. I did not expect to see so many areas in Bill C-36 that would criminalize behaviour in ways that would increase the risk for people in the sex trade industry.

However, having studied the Nordic model and the New Zealand model, we prefer the law that goes furthest in ensuring that the activities in the sex trade industry lose their stigma. We should be able to say that someone in the sex trade industry or someone who works for them—in, for example, security or scheduling or health care—is not stigmatized. Then we can concentrate on people who are in the sex trade because of addiction problems, or on those under 19, or on foreign workers. God help us; what a horrific case there is of sex trafficking and human trafficking. We should focus on those and eliminate them.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I was a participant in the justice committee hearings on the bill over the summer, when we heard from over 60 witnesses.

There was a consensus on three points. One was that the $20 million that has been set aside for an exit program was inadequate. The second was that all of those who were trained in the law, except for the Minister of Justice and those in his employ, felt that all or some of the bill was unconstitutional. The third point was that those involved in the sex trade should not be criminalized. Probably the best suggestion we heard during the course of the testimony was that those who are carrying a criminal record as a result of the unconstitutional law should be given an immunity.

My question for the member is this: what does she think of that immunity suggestion, which was rejected by the Conservatives? Also, does she have any comments with respect to the stigmatization associated with a criminal record as a result of being in the sex trade?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to commend the hon. member for Charlottetown. I thought his speech at second reading on this bill was the best that anyone delivered in comparing the Canadian laws on prostitution with a made-in-Moscow version for Canada.

I agree that when the law is unconstitutional, we need to look at immunity. As much as all of us have our own personal views that come from our own religious or moral context or backgrounds, the bottom line is that people's lives are at risk. Who are we as Canadians to turn our backs on them?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeMinister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, what was just said aside, there is something that has not been adequately debated in this House, and that is using the statement “what two consenting adults do between them is not the state's concern” as an underpinning to argue that the asymmetrical criminalization that has been put forward through this bill is not an adequate response to the Bedford ruling.

That is because the concept of sexual consent is at the heart of the statement. Our Criminal Code provides a standard definition for “sex without consent” under section 273.1. Some of the provisions include:

(a) the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant; (b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity;

There are other provisions.

Through case law, we have seen that a sexual assault offence is established by the proof of three elements: touching, the sexual nature of the content, and the absence of consent.

Furthermore, case law has shown that the absence of consent is subjective by reference to the complainant's internal state of mind towards the touching at the time it occurred.

Beyond this criminal definition of sexual consent is the work that groups involved with prevention of sexual assault have been doing to educate the public on the relationship between knowing and celebrating one's sexuality in order to define the boundaries of consent.

I had a transformational moment last week. I had a chance to speak with Elsbeth Mehrer of the YWCA of Calgary. I asked her, “What do you define as sexual consent?” She talked about an enthusiastic response that is exhibited by both parties.

I am also very proud of the work of the University of Calgary's consent, awareness, and sexual education club. They ran a “Consent is Sweet” campaign to bring this more accurate, in my opinion, concept of sexual consent to their student body.

Since time immemorial, empowered, educated, enthusiastic sexuality, particularly female sexuality, has been written into literature, social mores, and religious practice as an evil, something to be avoided for fear of ripping the very fabric of society. It has only been in very recent decades that western culture, particularly through the feminist movement, has enshrined a new view of consent into our consciousness, yet we still struggle to protect this, from “rapey” chants at frosh week to requests for female airport security officers to be segregated. We as a culture are still challenged with the full acceptance of empowered, equitable sexuality.

Furthermore, at the heart of this new notion of sexual consent is the concept of equality, the concept that all parties are in equilibrium from a power dynamic perspective.

I feel that as such, the “what two consenting adults do” argument is flawed, as there is an overwhelming burden of proof that a large majority of sex workers are not in an equitable position.

Be it a young worker who entered into the trade before having an opportunity to define what an enthusiastic response means in terms of their own sexuality, workers who are selling out of desperation to make the rent, to support substance abuse, to support their children or any other determinant of poverty, or workers who are suffering from mental health issues, there is not equality in the power balance between the parties. In most such situations, I would argue that true sexual consent, this enthusiasm that Elsbeth speaks about and that we are striving as a culture to enshrine, is difficult to achieve.

In demonstrating this, several studies based on surveys or anecdotal evidence from sex worker advocates and service providers suggest that the prevalence of sexual assault in the sex industry is high, particularly in the case of street-level workers.

A 2005 Vancouver study said that 78% of these workers had been raped in prostitution. Studies carried in the mid-1990s by the Department of Justice showed that physical and sexual assaults on prostitutes were commonly carried out by clients, pimps, or boyfriends.

In 2003, the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault published a briefing entitled “What lies behind the hidden figure of sexual assault? Issues of prevalence and disclosure”. It discusses the notion that women working in the sex industry are at a greater risk of sexual violence. The paper also briefly provides information about the treatment of sex workers by the courts and the judiciary in sexual assault cases.

We know that sexual assault is under-reported in general, I believe even more so in the case of sex workers. One of the issues raised in response to sex workers not reporting sexual assault is that they are afraid of being charged with prostitution-related offences as a result of making a statement. They also indicate that being exposed as a sex worker to friends and family is another reason to not report the incident to the police.

When we look at case law, defence strategies generally consist of attacking the credibility of the victim. I looked at some case law involving prostitutes, from 2004 to 2014, and these were some of the defence strategies:

The complainant consented on previous and future occasions.

The complainant is a drug addict and was under the influence when the sexual activities took place, suffers from depression, or cannot recollect the events due to memory lapses.

The complainant continued to work as a prostitute for many years after the event; therefore, she consented to the activity and was not traumatized.

How do these defences demonstrate our culture's acceptance of the value of full, enthusiastic, empowered sexual consent?

In the research completed for me by the Library of Parliament, several court cases showed the difficulty of defining consent in the context of case work. In R. v. House, R. v. Dyck, R. v. Lumsden, and R. v. Jakeer, the courts noticed that sex workers are particularly vulnerable and are entitled to the full measure of protection of the law, as is any other person. The review of cases tended to show that there was no general trend of the judicial interpretation of consent by sex workers. In this context, it seems that the consent of prostitutes is determined by the courts on a case-by-case basis.

I would like to read part of a ruling from the Ontario Court of Justice in relation to sexual assault with a sex worker.

In the circumstances of this case, although I am prepared to accept that she may have had grave misgivings and was in fact not consenting; her words and actions were such that a reasonable person might have an honest but mistaken belief as to her consent. She got into the car, asked for the money agreed upon and then apparently willingly complied with the sexual requests of these young men. I do not agree with the Crown's submission that the young men had any obligation to ask her if she was consenting to sexual contact when they entered the car. It was reasonable for them to assume that she was consenting when she met them with a request for the $30 fee before engaging in sexual activity and never by word or action indicated that she was not consenting to continue. Surely it is not the law that a client of a prostitute has to continually ask whether the acts engaged in are consensual....

I wish I had time to read this whole ruling because given rulings like this, websites which rate sex workers include comments like, “She didn't look at me when we were doing it”. “She cried a bit halfway through”.

I am not of the view that any person has a God-given right to have access to the purchase of sex or that the purchase of sex should in and of itself define sexual consent. To protect sex workers in this country, we need to stop and acknowledge that this is a fundamental flaw in any argument for the legalization of prostitution. By legalizing prostitution, we would degrade a hard-fought cultural understanding of the worth of humans and our sexuality, and make it harder for the victims of sexual assault, even those who are sex workers, to seek recompense and heal.

However, this is not to say that sex workers are in every instance incapable of giving consent. In contrast, by adopting Bill C-36 and the related funding we have announced, our country acknowledges we have the right to consent over what we choose to do with our bodies but that the burden of proof is overwhelming and shows that the majority of sex workers are degraded, assaulted, and abused. As such, we as a society and a nation recognize that the purchase of sexual services is an action we believe is criminal.

In the committee hearings, one of the witnesses spoke to the asymmetrical provisions and asked where it is that you can purchase something legally but not buy it legally, and why don't we do that with booze?

Well, a bottle of booze is not a human being. I believe that in order for us to show that we as a country have moved beyond a very limited range of sexual consent and that we as a culture believe in an empowered, willing, enthusiastic sexual consent definition, this proposed law needs to be adopted.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague across the way.

I would like to get some answers to some very specific questions. On the one hand, I would like to know whether the member thinks that this is a way to make prostitution illegal. Is prostitution illegal in Canada? If the answer is yes, she no longer has to answer the rest of my questions. If the answer is no, without hearing any comparisons to alcohol, I am still trying to understand how purchasing something can be a crime but selling it is not.

While keeping in mind the current Criminal Code provisions on human trafficking and exploitation, which still exist without the three small clauses in question that were addressed by the Supreme Court of Canada, if the police have not been capable of doing the job when it comes to the exploitation of women who are in this business against their will, why does the member think that sex workers will be any safer with Bill C-36? Does she agree with the $20 million sum, when everyone else is saying that that is completely ridiculous?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this question because I think it is at the heart of this debate. How can that asymmetry protect sex workers, and why have we approached it? It is as simple as this: the Criminal Code in Canada is a statement of what behaviour we in this country believe is acceptable and what we think is criminal.

Given the burden of proof that shows sex workers are for the most part subjected to abuse, sexual assault, and so on, we are acknowledging that the purchase of sexual services is a determinant to the outcome we do not want to see happen. Therefore, we are putting that into law. We are saying, as a country, that the action of purchasing sexual services is not acceptable and is a determinant to causing abuse.

On the other hand, we acknowledge that humans have a right to choose what they will do with their body. Through social programming, we support people exiting the trade.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the minister said was an impediment to those involved in the sex trade reporting sexual assaults is the fear of being charged with a prostitution-related offence. This bill would not fix that. Those involved in the sex trade would still be subject to criminal prosecution and to a criminal record for communicating in certain circumstances.

Given that is one of the concerns that the minister has, would she agree with all of the evidence we heard at committee with respect to the criminalization of those in the trade?

I would also repeat the question offered by the member for Gatineau with respect to the adequacy of the $20 million that has been set aside for exit programs. What are the minister's views on that?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, the point I was trying to make in my speech was that we have difficulty both in getting sex workers to report incidents of sexual assault and then convictions.

We need to say there is an issue in obtaining consent in a sex trade transaction. Boundaries can be broken quite easily, and then the person who is being assaulted is in the position of trying to show the burden of proof that this did occur.

By saying that we as a country do not support the purchase of sexual services and it is illegal, we are going to help raise awareness that sexual assault does occur in these situations. That was the point I was trying to make in my speech.

With regard to social programming, I fully believe that in order to assist sex workers who find themselves in the trade out of desperation or poverty that we have an onus as parliamentarians to ensure there is adequate programming available. It is not just about the $20 million; it is also about the myriad of other support services that we fund through government. We have increased transfer payments to the provinces for education and health care to record levels. We have all sorts of different employment services. I could speak at length just on that. Do we need to ensure that they are adequate and working? Yes, we do.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, some moments in our careers take on a certain importance because of the wide-reaching consequences of the decision we have to make. Since Bill C-36 was introduced, and in fact since the Supreme Court rendered its decision in the Bedford case, we knew that something was coming. I believe that everyone with an interest in this issue, on both sides, was contacted for consultation purposes. Whether it was stakeholders at all levels, sex trade workers, feminist groups that are opposed to the sex trade, or legal and constitutional experts, we met with almost everyone in Canada.

The approach I recommended on behalf of the NDP was to be as open-minded as possible. Everyone has their own perceptions and experiences, everyone was raised in a certain way, and so on. We are therefore trying not to let those views take on a life of their own and influence us. I was hoping that the government would do the same, because obviously, that is what I would expect from any justice minister and attorney general of Canada. That office holder has an obligation to introduce constitutional laws. We all know that law is not an exact science, so I am not asking for a 100% guarantee. However, some things hit us right between the eyes and make us realize that a particularly obvious problem is being created.

In any case, it has become quite obvious. The minister, who spoke just before me, mentioned $20 million in social transfers. For me, such transfers are an indication of good faith and a firm conviction in the measure that is being put forward. We heard from many people in committee. I counted some 75 witnesses. All of them, whether they were for or against Bill C-36, were unanimous in saying that $20 million over five years was a joke. Take for example the Manitoba justice minister. He talked about this problem in his province. We know that there is a serious problem in Manitoba with regard to forced prostitution and that it affects many aboriginal women. Poverty is a major issue here. This is an even bigger problem across the nation. Given the magnitude of the problem, $20 million over five years is a joke.

I will not get into all the arguments I will surely hear from my colleagues across the way to the effect that this is a start. If the Conservatives are serious and want as many people as possible on their side, they must show how serious they are with action. When the minister presented his bill at a press conference, it seemed like an afterthought. That really bothers me, because the Conservatives lack credibility in what they do.

Some of their other tactics also undermine their credibility and scare me even more. I am talking about online consultations. I was not born yesterday. I know that claiming to have consulted everyone around and saying that everyone agrees is the oldest trick in the book for a government that wants to get its way. The government has every right to do that, and I would even say it is a good idea. I am all for consultations. I too consulted the people of Gatineau a number of times to find what they thought of all this in order to be sure that the position of the member for Gatineau and the position of the official opposition justice critic sat well with the people she represents. Above all else, the most important thing to me is being the member for Gatineau and representing my constituents. The people told me that I was on the right track.

At committee stage, when we were studying this bill, we asked the minister if we could see the results of this grand online consultation. We knew the results were available, and we wanted to see all the details and the poll paid for by Canadian taxpayers. There was some indication that the results did not say exactly what the government was suggesting.

I will not describe the answers received, as I would be kicked out of the House of Commons. Some were simply unacceptable, such as when I was told that I would receive a response in due course. For the government, that meant when the committee finished studying the matter. The important information is conspicuous for its absence. For me, that is an indication of the government's lack of transparency on such volatile issues as safety. In fact, that is an aspect that has been virtually eliminated.

I referred to 75 witnesses, but we should not get excited and imagine that the study was uncommonly thorough. The study was done fairly quickly. In fact, it took place over a very short period of time and each intervenor had very little time. In total, five minutes were allocated for putting questions to constitutional experts, probably lawyers, who are one hundred times smarter than I am on this issue, to get a true sense of what is happening. Fortunately, we had done a large part of the work beforehand and during the study. We will continue working on this and trying to make the government understand that it is on the wrong track.

We presented amendments because that is what the job of all opposition parties, but especially that of the official opposition. As I said earlier, most of the amendments were deemed to be in order. Thus, they could have been debated and would have improved a bill that is indeed very harsh.

I was proud to propose an amendment, on behalf of the NDP, that would have prevented victims from having a criminal record. The Conservative government is always talking about sex workers as victims. If they are victims, their criminal record should be erased. Someone cannot be both a victim and a criminal. However, since there is nothing the Conservatives cannot do, they achieved the amazing feat of declaring these people to be victims and, at the same time, criminalizing them so that they are stuck with a criminal record.

Simple amendments like that would have given them the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. They refused. Amendments to reflect what all kinds of witnesses came to tell us were refused. These witnesses told us that extreme poverty and addiction are two of the major problems that lead people into prostitution. We tried to propose an amendment.

Aside from the phrase “...in response to...Bedford...”, there is nothing to show that this bill is truly a response to what the Supreme Court told us, which is that this is a serious problem. This is nowhere to be seen in the bill's preamble. There is no mention of it. Three sections were rejected by the Supreme Court, on the grounds that they were infringing on the right to security and to life. That is not insignificant. The bill needs to be evaluated from that perspective.

I proposed an amendment on behalf of the NDP. The Conservatives claim that they are going to eradicate prostitution. There could be a study every two years. Every year, the minister would have the opportunity to share with the House the details of what was done, of what was spent by whom and so on. No, once again, transparency is noticeably absent from the Conservative ranks.

To conclude, I would simply like to point out that the government was under no obligation to come back with Bill C-36. The Supreme Court of Canada was very clear: The question under section 7 is whether anyone's life, liberty or security of the person has been denied by a law that is inherently bad; a grossly disproportionate, overboard, or arbitrary effect on one person is sufficient to establish a breach of section 7.

The Supreme Court concluded that this does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes. We have been told that it will infringe on their rights. It is a delicate topic, and it is up to Parliament to take the necessary steps, should it choose to do so. There is therefore no obligation.

Stop saying that the Bedford ruling is behind Bill C-36, that there was no other choice and that there had to be a full-scale study because there would have been problems otherwise. I would not want to take the blame for the consequences this bill will have on many people. Do not forget that anything labelled “human trafficking” and “exploitation” is still part of the Criminal Code, which protects women and other victims of these crimes.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend, the NDP justice critic, for her contribution and participation in the House of Commons justice committee review over the summer.

I note that in her speech today, and at other opportunities, she mentioned that she did not understand how something could be illegal to purchase but not to sell. I would remind her that when the bill was introduced, the Minister of Justice said quite clearly that for the first time in Canada, prostitution would be made illegal by this bill.

The bill would provide an exemption to the persons who would sell their services, because, in the view of the government, we see them as primarily victims. The Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification made a good speech earlier about consent and how many people in this business were really not in a position to give consent because they were forced by their circumstances to do this.

What I want to ask her very succinctly is this. If her party were to propose a bill, would it make the purchase of sexual services of another person illegal?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find this debate somewhat uninspiring. In saying that it has created an exemption, the government is avoiding saying what it cannot legally say. It cannot legally say that prostitution is illegal in Canada. That is what I believe based on information that I myself received from some of this country's leading constitutional experts. Before I began my speech, the minister talked about how all people have the right to do what they want with their body. We subscribe to that principle with respect to abortion, the right to choose and so on. We have to apply that logic to everything, like it or not. It does not matter if it is not the way I am raising my girls. Our Constitution and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictate the kind of society we want. It is not up to me to tell people what to do.

When we asked them to clearly state the basis of their intent to make prostitution illegal, they objected to that kind of amendment.

If they want to know what we intend to do, I can say that we will show them when we take power in 2015.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Gatineau a question about the amendments that were presented in committee. She put forward several amendments, and all but one were rejected.

My question is with respect to the only amendment that the government saw fit to accept from the official opposition over the course of the summer, and that amendment called for an automatic review of this bill after five years.

Given the numerous constitutional concerns that have been expressed, given the inevitable charter challenge that awaits, is it not really a pyrrhic victory, the passing of this amendment five years down the road? Will we not be well into the litigation process or have already passed the amendment process by the time this has any effect?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I doubt that the hon. member heard that from me. I did not leave the committee jumping for joy because one of my amendments had been adopted. I think this is the same as a rejection. What we were asking for is that this be done in the first two years. That seemed perfectly reasonable to us, especially considering that the Conservatives rejected our even more important amendment. It sought to provide members of the House with key statistics such as where the money was spent, how many people managed to get out of the trade and how many people ended up trapped in the trade, in order to see how far the government managed to get with its so-called eradication of prostitution.

I think that five years from now, we will not even see this review of the act itself, given the fact that the issue will likely end up in court. However, when we look at the Bedford case and the time it took for a final ruling by the Supreme Court, I am not sure that we will have a final ruling. However, I am sure that we will no longer have a Conservative government, and it will be part of our job at that point to review many laws to ensure that we are adhering to the principles set out in the Bedford ruling.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-36 at report stage. I stated in the last session that the bill would likely be unconstitutional. This was confirmed by virtually all of the legal witnesses who testified at committee with the exception of the minister and those employed by his department.

Let there be no doubt that this unconstitutional bill will pass the House because the Conservatives hold a majority of the seats in the House. Once it has completed its perfunctory process here at report stage and then third reading, the legislation will proceed to the Senate. That chamber is also controlled by the Conservative majority, and it was decided that it would undertake a pre-study of the bill, meaning that even before the legislation is passed in the House, the Senate Conservatives were holding hearings. Senator Linda Frum was quoted in the media today confirming that any changes to the bill were highly unlikely.

Please allow me to provide an overview of what has transpired with the issue of prostitution, including an overview of the legislative process to date.

As it currently stands, prostitution is legal in Canada and has been since 1892 when the Criminal Code was first enacted. It was the activities surrounding prostitution that were illegal until the Supreme Court ruling in Bedford. Specifically, the Criminal Code outlined communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution, living on the avails of prostitution and operating a common bawdy house, otherwise known as a brothel.

By way of background, it is critical to reference the famous Bedford case, the reason we are here today. In its landmark court case, a group of sex workers brought forth a charter challenge arguing that those three aforementioned provisions of the Criminal Code put, in the view of sex workers, their safety and security at risk, thereby violating their charter rights. In its landmark decision last December, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with those sex workers and struck down those three Criminal Code provisions, determining that they violated section 7 of the charter, which protects life, liberty and security of the person.

The Supreme Court suspended the ruling from coming into force for a period of one year to give Parliament the opportunity to enact new legislation if it chose to do so. This past June, the Attorney General introduced Bill C-36, a legislative response to the Supreme Court's ruling.

As I have stated, prior to the committee hearings in July, I share the consensus view of legal commentators who strongly believe Bill C-36 is unconstitutional in whole or in part. I do not believe the legislation complies with the Supreme Court ruling. Nor do I believe it complies with the charter. Furthermore, I indicated that the legislation might very well put sex workers at a greater risk of harm or worse.

The Conservatives claimed that they consulted widely about the bill without providing evidence of these consultations. They further claimed that they checked that Bill C-36 was charter compliant, again, without producing evidence in the form of legal opinion despite repeated requests.

The Conservatives rejected a request to refer the question of the bill's constitutionality to the Supreme Court of Canada. They claim to have relied upon evidence in the form of an online survey of Canadians. This survey is really a pretty obvious effort to provide cover from the inevitable critique that they once again defaulted to ideology in crafting the bill. This survey is passed off as evidence by Conservatives.

The Conservatives fail to mention how unscientific online surveys are, especially when the possibility of organized interest groups target the survey in order to skew the results. Is this really what Canadians want from their government, conducting surveys with inherent flaws as the basis for making serious changes in law, or even more worrisome, as the basis of responding to a Supreme Court's decision? Yet we have the spectacle of the Minister of Justice waving around this survey as some sort of conclusive evidence of the current thinking of Canadians.

Then there is the $175,000 Ipsos Reid poll the government commissioned seeking the actual views of Canadians about prostitution. Time and again, the Liberal Party and my colleagues in the official opposition called on government to release that poll, a real poll, to Canadians and to do so before the parliamentary hearings, held this past July. The minister steadfastly opposed releasing the contents of that poll, despite the fact that the information contained might have been helpful to the justice committee's deliberations. In fact, at committee, when questioned about releasing the data from the poll, the only substantive comment came from a Department of Justice official, who said the poll contained useful information in crafting the bill.

Let us recap again. The Conservatives create a ruse. They create a scientifically unreliable website-based survey and use that as evidence. At the same time, they have in their possession actual evidence from their Ipsos Reid poll, evidence that they refuse to release to Parliament or to MPs serving on the justice committee. At the parliamentary hearings last July, I asked the minister about this poll and why he would not release that evidence. Allow me to highlight the exchange because most members would not be familiar with some of the exchanges at committee.

Here is an excerpt from the official parliamentary record of that exchange.

I asked the minister:

I want to come back to [the member for Gatineau's] question with respect to the $175,000 survey or poll that was done by Ipsos Reid. You have indicated that we're going to be able to see it once these hearings are over. Mr. Minister, you have the power to allow us to see that sooner, do you not?

The Minister responded:

The survey itself was not particular to this question of prostitution only, and so there is a normal six-month time period that is invoked for when that polling information will be released. I should note for the record...that you're aware there have been other surveys done and other polling information available that has been released or is in the public domain.

I asked:

Mr. Minister, do you have the power to abridge the time in which we see this $175,000 Ipsos Reid survey? Do you have the power to give that to us before we examine all these witnesses?

The Minister responded:

There is a six-month timeframe that we will respect.

I persisted:

So you have the power, but you're deciding not to exercise it?

He responded:

I didn't say that. I said we'll respect the six-month timeframe.

I asked him:

Do you have the power to abridge it?

He said:

We'll release it when the six-month timeframe is up.

I said:

Is that a yes or a no?

He said:

We'll release it when the six-month timeframe is up....

I asked him again:

You won't tell me whether or not you have the power to abridge it, but if you do, you're not going to exercise it.

He responded:

What I'm telling you is that you'll have the information when the six-month period is up.

There it is: Conservative obstruction in full view. The Minister of Justice repeatedly refused to release that evidence before the justice committee, evidence he knew completely contradicted the government's line about Canadians' views on prostitution. We can only conclude that information, that evidence, was purposely withheld from Parliament and concealed from MPs serving on the justice committee. It was withheld because that evidence tore a gaping hole in their false narrative.

We now know that shortly after the parliamentary hearings on Bill C-36 were completed, some brave whistleblower leaked the contents of the Ipsos Reid poll to the Toronto Star. It is very clear why the Conservatives did not want the Ipsos Reid poll made public. Contrary to the misinformation of the Conservatives, the evidence in the poll suggested Canadians were very much split on the subject.

As I have said before, the Conservatives are entitled to their own ideology and their own opinions. They are not, however, entitled to their own facts. Withholding key evidence from the committee was deliberate, and that should trouble any Canadian who values honesty and integrity regardless of what side of the prostitution debate she or he may fall on.

I will leave it at that for now. I look forward to the third-reading debate, where I will go over and highlight what the justice committee heard at our hearings in July.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Liberal justice critic for his speech and for his participation in the House of Commons justice committee proceedings this summer.

First, I would like to respond to something he mentioned in his speech. He said no lawyers, other than government lawyers, confirmed the constitutionality of Bill C-36. That is not true. Professor Benedet of UBC, one of Canada's foremost constitutional law experts, certainly did confirm that it was constitutional, as did several other lawyers. If he has forgotten, I would be happy to share the transcript of the parliamentary committee's work with him.

My question, though, for him is the same question I proposed to the NDP, which responded, when asked what it would do, that it will wait and find out. We do not know what either of these parties would do with respect to prostitution. What is the Liberal Party's position? Would it propose a bill to make the purchase of the sexual services of another person illegal in Canada?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will take the parliamentary secretary up on his offer of showing me where Professor Benedet indicated that the bill was constitutional. I was at the hearings. I listened very carefully to Professor Benedet, so if he has a transcript, then I will stand corrected.

In fact, the only lawyer, the only person with legal training, who testified at committee that they felt the bill was constitutional was one who represented the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and that lawyer was contradicted by her own client. The other lawyers who indicated that the bill was constitutional were the Minister of Justice or those in his employ. Therefore, I will take him up on his offer, if that is not the case, absolutely.

As to the Liberal Party's position with respect to prostitution in Canada, we believe that the government should have passed a bill that complied with Bedford, that complied with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that protected the vulnerable. It did none of the above.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Green

Bruce Hyer Green Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the majority of my constituents have indicated to me, by email and in person, that they believe that biological and pragmatic, and even political, reality as well as human nature indicate that we should legalize it, tax it, and regulate it. The bill, obviously, would make things worse, in terms of protecting women from violence.

My question for this hon. member, after his fine speech, is a political question. Why does he think the Conservatives are bringing forward a bill that is clearly unconstitutional, totally irrational, and makes no pragmatic sense, at all?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is really difficult for me to try to get into the heads of the Conservatives and understand the rationale, because I am wired differently.

However, allow me to speculate here, in this sanctum of parliamentary privilege. A tough-on-crime party wants to look around to criminalize whatever and whomever it can. Therefore, the bill would succeed in attaching criminal sanctions to many of the aspects of this complex social problem. The only other thing that I can think of is that it must have some appeal for its base.

Finally, this is something that, quite frankly, just kicks this problem down the road. That is why the Conservatives refused our call to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada. They know it is unconstitutional, but this will get them past the next election.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-36. As members know, I am supportive of the bill as a response to the Supreme Court of Canada's December 20, 2013, Bedford decision. In December last year, Canadians received a Christmas present. For the most part, they did not know what was happening as they were busy getting ready for Christmas. The Supreme Court of Canada deemed all of the laws around prostitution unconstitutional. It allowed the government a year to respond to that and there has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone into the bill, including a lot of study of this important legislation. It is possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation and I am totally convinced that it will keep our youth and our people safe.

We heard from a lot of people, including front-line support workers, police services, chiefs, and experts from the legal profession. I must say that Professor Janine Benedet, one of the foremost constitutional lawyers in this country, who had worked on the Bedford case as well, fully expects the bill to be and has said that she firmly believes it is constitutional. As members know, many bills are defeated on a charter challenge. However, without a doubt the bill is constitutional.

I am especially impressed by all of the victims who came to committee and the survivors who came to testify at both committees, because that is what this is all about—survivors finally talking about what happened to them. Human trafficking and prostitution were under the public radar for years. Everyone felt that if young girls or boys sold sexual services that was what they wanted to do. However, at committee we found out it was totally opposite to what the public thought. Why is that? Because more and more families across this country are being impacted by predators who come on as their friends and lure them into the sex trade and then they get into drugs and all sorts of things.

However, they have no voice. Bill C-36 allows those victims of human trafficking and those who have been forced into the sex trade to have a voice and the freedom to come and testify before us. They are the ones who need our attention and protection and we must not forget them.

After sitting around the table listening to these survivors, I would say that every Canadian should read the testimony of that committee because they would learn a lot about what is happening to a lot of children in communities all across this country. We have learned that predators earn about $260,000 to $280,000 a year per victim. That is why they do it. It is all about the money. A lot of the people connected to those predators earn a lot of money too. Hence, what is happening in this country is that a lot of people are protecting their cashflow at the expense of modern-day slavery.

During the hearings, law enforcement agencies also came forward to express their overall support for Bill C-36 and applauded the strong message it sends to all Canadians, which is basically that we will go after the pimps and johns and we will put support systems in place for the victims of human trafficking and those people who have found themselves in the sex trade without ever intending to be there. The police officers agreed that prostitution is an inherently dangerous activity and emphasized a need to prosecute those who profit from the sexual exploitation of others. I spoke earlier about predators making between $260,000 to $280,000 per year, which is a lot of profit. The police also emphasized the need to have in place the necessary tools to protect our communities from the harms of prostitution so that parents do not have to sweep away syringes and condoms from the school grounds of their children.

It is not about arresting victims at all. The only provision within Bill C-36 has to do with schools, playgrounds and pools, right on the grounds themselves. The fact of the matter is that Canadians agree that children should be protected. More and more Canadians in communities across Canada are starting to understand that they are also protecting their own beautiful children and vulnerable children from predators, due to Bill C-36.

We heard a lot of things in committee. We also heard another perspective that said people have rights to choose any profession they want, and, of course, that is true in Canada. However, we listened to the survivors of forced prostitution, human trafficking, and all of those stories that came forward. I cannot help but emphasize the contrast between the stories of the people who said that prostitution is an industry and government is circumventing their rights if it starts addressing it, and the stories of those who have experienced pain, suffering, and victimization while at the mercy of pimps, drug dealers, brothel owners, criminal organizations, and human traffickers. It is just unbelievable. When they bravely came to committee for the first time to tell people what happened to them, it was all we could do to keep our composure.

For someone who has worked with victims of human trafficking and those who were forced into prostitution, it was very profound to see these courageous people get up at committee to talk about it.

Statistics and research show that those who are most vulnerable to becoming involved in prostitution are marginalized, disenfranchised, and vulnerable, and the vulnerable can come from middle-class Canada.

We had many cases across this country where middle-class young people came forward. They were trafficked because of the way that the predators operate. They come on as their boyfriends, and they believed they were in love and that nobody wanted to exploit them. It never crossed their minds, until all their identification was taken away and they were forced to sexually service men or women. Those are vulnerable people.

We also speak to the homeless and those who have suffered abuse as young children or have suffered from addictions. A lot of those young, underaged people who are victimized are not addicts when they go into it. It is to camouflage their pain and to get through the day that it happens.

It is critical that Bill C-36 prioritizes this vulnerable group that people are talking about more and more, to protect them from harm.

It has been seen in many countries, many jurisdictions, that targeting the johns and the pimps is the right thing to do. In this country, human trafficking and forced prostitution was under the public radar screen for a very long time. We hear over and over again that $40 million is not enough. Well, it is a very good start.

Provinces, municipalities, and others need to contribute to this as well. Bill C-36 would address, in a very bold way, a problem that has remained under the public radar screen for a very long time. It is not about taking away some person's right to choose whatever profession they want to be in; that is up to consenting adults. That is not what the bill is about. The bill is about making sure that these vulnerable populations I have been talking about are protected, that they have a chance, even if they are caught in the horrible trafficking or forced prostitution field. Now they are protected because they are able to report the abuse to the police and they are able to get out and be rehabilitated.

I am very proud of Bill C-36. I am very proud of what our government is doing. A lot of people across this nation are listening to this debate and listening to what other people have to say, on all sides of the House. There is a very strong contrast between our government, which is standing up for the vulnerable, and those who are not on the other side of the House.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying how admirable the work is that my colleague has been doing for the past years with victims of exploitation and human trafficking. I would like to commend her for her leadership on the issue.

My question is mostly technical. All the situations the hon. member has described in her speech are already touched on by the Criminal Code. Article 279.04 talks about exploitation, and article 279.01 talks about human trafficking. I would remind the member that the sentence for human trafficking is life in jail.

None of the police officers at the committee were able to name new tools that Bill C-36 would give them to help victims of trafficking. I would like my colleague to name new legislative tools, not only the money, to help people get away from human trafficking.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, my own son is a police officer who works with trafficking victims. He has done that for a number of years. One tool we were talking about the other day that is so important is how victims now have the ability to report abuse to the police.

They would not arrested under Bill C-36. The only place from where they would be asked to move along is in front of schools and playgrounds. That does not mean that they would be formally arrested. In every other place, the victims would have a right to say to the police officer that they have been abused, that this is what is happening to them, and to please help them out. That is a big tool.

What happened before was that the victims were controlled by the pimps and the traffickers. If they went to the police, they were arrested. In fact, before this bill, when there was a takedown, between the pimps and the prostitutes, more prostitutes were arrested than anybody else.

We have to change our language around prostitution. It is modern-day slavery, for the most part. There are very few people who choose to go into something like this. When we stop to think about it, what woman would get beaten, give all of her money to somebody, and then keep silent about it?

This is a huge tool in Bill C-36.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, through the Chair, I apologize.

The member has identified that the legislation would attack the system of advertising these services. The legislation talks about the system of reporting to the police and the conversations that would be possible between people who have been trafficked and the law enforcement agencies. The member talked about a series of systemic approaches that need to be changed in order to change the culture around this issue.

However, when it comes to missing and murdered indigenous women, the same government responds to it as an individual situation, that there is no sociological or systemic reason there.

I would like the member, through the Chair, to explain to the House exactly why this is a systemic problem, but the other one is not; it is rather one of individual choices and individual situations.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, to be very candid, when we look at backpage.com and other advertisements, we will often see advertisements like “Asian women”, “young women”, “fresh women”. Those advertisements are done by organized crime and traffickers. They are selling their product.

There is a provision for the prostitutes themselves. If they want to individually advertise, that is fine. The bill would not touch that. What it would go after is the control of these women.

I am an honorary chief. I have been on reserves. I have the red shawl from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. My own family is aboriginal. I have such a heart for the murdered and missing women. I can tell the House that there has been so much talk about inquiry and no action, and now we need to take action. We need to put the money into programming and into solving the problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I attended the meeting of the special committee that examined Bill C-36.

I would like to point out that we are once again hearing the Conservatives' unilateral view that justice can solve the problems inherent in prostitution.

I have an eye infection. This may not seem to have any relevance to the bill before us. However, yesterday, I went to the pharmacy to get some eye drops, and the pharmacist told me that merely putting one or two drops in my eye would not cure the infection. He said that the infection needed to be treated and that it would take several days for it to be cured.

My Conservative colleagues' remarks about Bill C-36 give the impression that this bill is like some sort of magical cure for an infection that will solve all of the problems in one day. It is as though every victim will be saved, prostitution will be eliminated and all the pimps will be sent to prison on the day Bill C-36 comes into force.

We are not living in a comic strip or a world of make-believe. We are living in a real society. Justice is not the way to eliminate the problems inherent in prostitution. We can put anyone we like in prison but it will not solve the problem. We spoke about poverty, vulnerability and drug use. To my knowledge, Bill C-36 does not address any of those issues.

As I said earlier, I truly admire my colleague for all of the work that she has done for victims of human trafficking and exploitation. The main point of her speech and that of the minister of state was that these people are in an extremely difficult situation. This may be because of family problems, drug problems or poverty. However, regardless of the underlying problems, these people did not make a free choice. How can someone be given the opportunity to make a free and informed decision? They must be given options.

The government would have us believe that these men and women will be able to make a free and informed decision and get out of the situation they now find themselves in. I would be happy if we could all live in utopia and everyone could be equal. However, a bill such as Bill C-36 is not going to resolve the issues of poverty and drug use. The very basis of the Supreme Court's ruling was that no one can freely and safely engage in an activity if everything associated with that activity is illegal. In this case, we are talking about bawdy-houses, pimping and prostitution itself or the issue of soliciting.

The Conservatives are now saying that we should forget about all those offences but that, according to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, prostitution will be illegal. According to the minister of state, only purchasing the services of a prostitute is illegal. This is not clear.

Does this really respect the basis for the Supreme Court ruling? If we listen carefully to the Conservatives' speeches, some say that prostitution is illegal while others say only purchasing the services is illegal. Does that provide a legal, secure and safe framework for the individuals? That is the question.

According to the witnesses, making illegal everything surrounding a legal activity does not make this activity any safer. That is the very basis for the Supreme Court ruling. Most of the witnesses said, unfortunately, that the bill will be challenged because you cannot criminalize victims for an activity that is not illegal. That is unconstitutional. Even the witnesses invited by the Conservatives to appear before the committee clearly said that the victims cannot be criminalized.

Toughening the laws as they do, without any consideration for the problems inherent in an activity and a situation—I spoke about poverty—does not solve anything.

This bill does not solve anything. As I mentioned, it is like a magical cure for an infection. It does not work. It does not exist. It is like continuing to put a band-aid on a wound that will not heal. We are only adding a legislative framework and that is not a solution to a problem.

My colleague said that victims are now able to report and are able to get out and that we are now offering them the option to do so. Could they not report before?

All of the police officers who testified in front of the committee said that police officers do not prosecute and arrest prostitutes. They do not do it anymore. They have not done it for at least the past seven years. Is she saying that the police officers lied in committee and that they would arrest prostitutes? Is she saying that before they were not able to report, and now they are?

I would like to remind the hon. member that exploitation, rape, and human trafficking are already criminalized under the Criminal Code, and the sentence is jail to life imprisonment.

I would like my colleague to read sections 279.01 and 279.04 again. They are clear: human trafficking and exploitation are illegal. I already asked her the question, but she could not answer me. What new tools would Bill C-36 give to police to get young people out of prostitution? I did not ask about money, for that is another matter entirely.

All 75 witnesses said that $20 million over five years is completely ridiculous. I think the answer was clear. I repeat, 75 out of 75 witnesses, 100%, said that it was completely ridiculous.

When I asked the question, none of the police officers could name a single new tool that Bill C-36 would give them to help the victims of prostitution and human trafficking get out of it. This bill does not provide any new tools. I asked all the police officers who appeared before the committee.

According to the Conservatives, the Criminal Code is ineffective. Does that mean that section 279.04 on exploitation is ineffective? Should we get rid of that section and draft a new one? According to the Conservatives, section 279.01 of the Criminal Code on human trafficking is also ineffective. Does that mean we should take it out of the Criminal Code and draft a new one?

According to the Conservatives, no victims of human trafficking could get out of it before Bill C-36 was introduced. What, then, is the purpose of the Criminal Code? Are police officers incapable of enforcing the existing sections of the Criminal Code? In that case, we are talking about another problem, that is, whether police on the ground have the resources they need to do so. We heard from many police officers, and their message was clear: there is only one person in the police squad for an entire region.

If human trafficking in Canada is so extensive that the Conservatives want to do something, why not allocate more resources to police so they can take action on the ground? As it stands, Bill C-36 simply makes something illegal that may or may not already be illegal, according to the Conservatives. They cannot even give us a straight answer on that.

The minister of state spoke about the defence strategies used by pimps and johns, as she calls them. I must remind her that none of the defence strategies she listed in her speech can be used under the Criminal Code. She talked about drug use. Under the Criminal Code, drug use is clearly not an acceptable defence in a court of law. She also talked about consent. The section of the Criminal Code dealing with rape and sexual assault is clear: even if the victim previously consented to sexual relations, that does not mean that the person consented to rape. All of the examples of defence strategies used by pimps and johns, as she said, are unacceptable and would not work.

Will Bill C-36 truly solve the problems associated with prostitution? Not at all. The bill does not respect the very basis of the court's ruling, which is that people have the right to be safe when carrying out an activity.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very anxious to ask some questions, because there is a bit of a vacuum in some of the comments that were made.

Why is Bill C-36 here? It is what we have been talking about all morning. The Supreme Court collapsed the laws. The laws the member was talking about that are in the Criminal Code were actually deemed unconstitutional. The government was asked to take this up and produce a bill that would respond to that. That is the answer to that.

Again, the tools, which I talked to very explicitly, are that now the victims could talk to the police. Just because there is a little provision in section 213 that if they solicit in front of schools, day cares, or kiddie pools, and that kind of thing, they can be moved along does mean they are being arrested. What happens is that often police get them to the police station and explain to them why this is not acceptable.

This is one of the best bills this country has ever put forward to address this terrible problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was on the same committee as my esteemed colleague. I can guarantee you that no police officer was able to say that Bill C-36 would bring anything new to the legislation to help victims break free from human exploitation. I guarantee it.

If the member can show me testimony from committee, I will apologize to the House, but I can guarantee you that I have reread my notes, and not a single police officer was able to name a new tool.

The basis of the Supreme Court's ruling was that a person must and may carry out an activity freely and safely, but how can a person do this if everything surrounding the activity is illegal? That is why the court removed those sections from the Criminal Code. The Conservatives are essentially saying that prostitution itself is not illegal, but the purchase of prostitution is. We are going in circles here.

Is this truly in keeping with the basis of the Supreme Court's ruling? No, it is not. The member said that, before, victims could not report to police, which is absolutely not true. The police officers who testified in committee were clear. They had not been arresting prostitutes for years, and they had been working with them precisely to try to combat pimping.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech.

She spoke about tools, and that truly is an important issue because not every problem has a legislative solution. Sometimes, a problem requires fiscal measures. In committee, we heard from a witness named Kyle Kirkup.

One of the things Kyle Kirkup said was this: “Got a complex social problem? There's a prison for that.”

In invite my colleague to expand upon the non-legislative, non-Criminal Code matters that undoubtedly the government has not thought of in addressing this complex social problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that question.

As I said, the Conservatives' unilateral view is that justice can solve all the problems inherent to a situation. Whether we are talking about prostitution or something else, the activity must be criminalized for it to be controlled.

In their speeches, the government's parliamentary secretaries and the ministers of state clearly said that prostitutes and victims have no choice because, unfortunately, they are extremely poor, are addicted to drugs and may even have mental health issues. However, from what I can see, Bill C-36 does nothing to address those problems. There is no additional money for social housing or mental health treatment. The government is simply criminalizing an activity that, in and of itself, is not illegal.

I would really like it if the Conservatives could tell us how criminalizing something can help people who are dealing with much deeper issues, such as poverty, mental illness or drug addiction. Putting them in prison or criminalizing them will not solve the problem. All of the experts agree. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is true that when a crime is committed, the person needs to pay for their actions, but what happens to the victims in that case? Do they get help? No, the government prefers to make it illegal to advertise or buy services. What happens to the victims? Do they get help? No, not at all.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

September 22nd, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-36, which amends the Criminal Code in order to create an offence that would prohibit purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose.

I am very familiar with this bill because I am a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In July, our committee studied this bill for five consecutive days and heard from 75 witnesses.

We find that this bill does not comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and therefore we will oppose it. The government should have sent Bill C-36 to the Supreme Court to ensure that it is constitutional. The Minister of Justice said that he expected that Bill C-36 would face a legal challenge. As usual, the Conservatives' bills are designed to garner votes, not improve our society.

We consulted many legal experts, stakeholders and sex workers, as well as the authorities concerned by this legislation. Everyone agrees that Bill C-36 does not stand a good chance of getting by the Supreme Court.

There are many sex workers who choose this profession of their own free will. They must be protected from abuse. However, they are not the ones I am concerned about. What I do worry about is the government's lack of action on fighting poverty, which is the main factor that leads to sexual exploitation.

The measures announced by the Conservatives to help prostitutes exit the sex trade are inadequate. Sweden has adopted the model that criminalizes the buyer of services. Some wrongly claim that Bill C-36 is the Canadian version of the Swedish model. In Sweden, these legislative measures go hand in hand with extremely important social measures. The Swedish model cannot work if the authorities do not have the necessary resources to help people in need because, quite frankly, the main cause of prostitution is poverty.

Many women who have no way out turn to prostitution to survive. Those situations give rise to abuse and violence. What have the Conservative and Liberal government done to fight poverty? Nothing at all.

On the contrary, over the past five years, only 20% of Canadians have seen an increase in their incomes. The other 80% have seen their real income shrink. Households in Canada have the highest level of debt in the entire OECD. It is a disaster. Young people are paying more than ever for tuition and are incurring more debt than ever before. To make matters worse, for the past few years, the federal government has been refusing to invest in social housing. By 2030, $1.7 billion in federal funding for social housing will have been lost. This amounts to 85% of the federal housing budget.

In Canada, more than 620,000 social housing units were provided through long-term agreements, with a lifespan ranging from 25 to 50 years. These agreements allow social housing providers to financially support their tenants to ensure that only about 30% of their income is spent on rent.

In 2014, the federal government is still refusing to renew these agreements as they expire.

If we do not change course by 2030, over three-quarters of the federal education budget will have been cut. However, social housing is one way of getting people out of poverty and out of prostitution. For instance, by spending less than 30% of its income on housing, a needy family can invest more money in education. That is why we will continue to call on this government to renew federal funding for social housing, in order to preserve rent subsidies and provide funds for necessary renovations. Furthermore, to help women get out of prostitution, more needs to be done to treat substance abuse problems. Once again, we are up against this government's failure to act.

The Minister of Justice promised $20 million for treatment and prevention as part of Bill C-36's implementation. However, that amount is not even enough to meet the needs of existing organizations throughout Canada. At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, witnesses criticized the cuts made to women's centres. This is on top of the funding cuts to mental health services and other medical services, as well as the absence of sufficient legal aid.

If the government is serious about fighting sexual exploitation, it has to allocate substantial resources. It has to provide these women with income support, as well as education, training and treatment for drug addiction. That is the only way to combat prostitution because criminalizing johns, which Bill C-36 would do, will not put an end to sex work. All that will do is further marginalize it. Marginalization is what leads to exploitation and violence. If johns are criminalized, they will be afraid. They will ask sex workers to meet them in out-of-the-way places. They will force them into different circumstances.

Bill C-36 will make life even more unsafe for many prostitutes. If they cannot advertise their services to persuade the johns to come to them, many more are likely to take to the streets in search of business. This bill will make it much more difficult for sex workers to safely assess and vet their clients and ensure they can meet them in relatively safe places on their own terms.

We believe that this bill is not consistent with the Supreme Court ruling or the charter. The measures announced by the Conservatives to help prostitutes exit the sex trade are inadequate. The government must refer the bill to the Supreme Court. We do not believe it is consistent with the Bedford decision.

Finally, concrete efforts must be made immediately to improve the safety of sex workers and help them exit the sex trade if they are not there by choice. The government must provide significant resources for income support, education and training, poverty alleviation and treatment for addictions for this group of people.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and

That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of this Order and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, what a surprise. This is, what, the 72nd time? It is tempting to repeat the arguments we have been making since the first time the government moved a time allocation motion. This time, the motion is on Bill C-36, which was meant to be a response to the Supreme Court's ruling on certain sections of the Criminal Code.

However, I do not get the impression that this motion is meant to silence the opposition. It seems as though it is meant to hide the debate from the Conservatives' own base. That is what I would like to ask the minister.

Yesterday I read a rather interesting report after the Conservative caucus meeting. It appeared to be saying that the government's strategy was not clear. The Conservatives themselves are divided. Some support decriminalization, some support outright prohibition, and some are not happy with the government's decision because what it is doing is not clear. The government seems to want to hide things and speed up the debate, keep it under the radar and get the committee work done in the summer, when everyone is gone.

This is my question for the minister. Was this time allocation motion moved not to prevent the opposition from speaking, but to prevent his own colleagues from speaking to this bill?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
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Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting idea for a sitcom, sort of like Fantasy Island. I was actually at that caucus meeting and I can assure members that the government's intention is to bring forward a bill that is principled, thoughtful, and intended to respond to a situation that was created by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down certain provisions of the Criminal Code in Bedford.

To enlighten my friend and anyone who may want to know what the bill is about, it proposes criminalizing those who are fueling the demand for a dangerous activity, mainly prostitution or the purchase of sexual services. It also continues to criminalize those who have received and would receive financial benefits from the prostitution of others and who procure others for the purposes of prostitution.

Further, it would criminalize those who advertise the sale of sexual services of others in print or online. It is all about protecting the victims of prostitution, and this is where quite a significant shift would occur in Canadian law, where we would treat the prostitutes themselves as victims, which predominantly they are; so it is about the protecting of prostitutes from criminal liability or for any part they may be playing in the purchasing, material benefit of procuring or advertising of offences, and ensuring at the same time that victims of prostitution are further protected so that persons who legitimately receive material benefit from prostitution of others would not be criminalized. This includes their spouses, roommates, children, or those who offer goods and services that the general public could also receive, such as accountants or taxi drivers.

The bill is quite clear. We have also added additional resources to help prostitutes exit the profession.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the government House leader, and it is 100% in regard to the use of time allocation.

It is important to recognize that the government, since it has acquired a majority, has used time allocation as a normal process. We need to recognize that the majority government has limited members of Parliament. By doing that, Conservatives are being disrespectful to all Canadians by not allowing for a natural flow of debate on legislation. Whether it is this or other pieces of legislation that come before the House, the government continues to use time allocation to prevent members of Parliament from representing their constituents on important issues.

One of the issues for me personally was in regard to the Wheat Board. There are so many bills, such as budget bills, for which time allocation is used. Why does the government choose to use time allocation time and time again, and why does it only use this since it acquired a majority government? It is the majority government that has been driving time allocation by the government.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the majority government, I am going to suggest to my hon. friend that the use of time allocation is not some sort of new and innovative approach that has been taken by this government. I have been around here for some time, 17 years, much like the Chair, and I have seen this is very often used to keep the House moving and to keep legislation moving through the normal process.

In the case of the bill before the House, Bill C-36, the subject of this debate, the Supreme Court of Canada has specified a one-year period in which this legislation must respond to the gap in the Criminal Code that was created by the Bedford decision.

Therefore, there are expedited reasons to move this legislation forward, to get it through the second reading stage of the process and into committee so that we may have the ability, the somewhat unusual ability, for the justice committee to examine this legislation in greater detail and to hear from witnesses. We are looking at doing a similar process, a simultaneous process with the Senate, so that we can meet the deadline.

When we return in the fall, that good work will be done by members of the justice committee, members of the House from all sides, to provide rigorous examination of the legislation, to provide feedback, to improve upon the bill, to bring it back to Parliament for debate in the fall, and to see that it then finishes the regular process of proceeding through this chamber and through the Senate and passes into law well in advance of that December deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, just a few moments ago, I heard the minister say that the use of time allocation in debates is not something new, that it is a parliamentary tradition and part of the process. However, what is new is that it has been used 72 times in a very short period of time. This even breaks the Liberals' record. It seems to me that the government wants to be in the Guinness World Records. However, this is a record to be ashamed of, not proud of.

Let me read the title of the bill we are dealing with here. It is Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. I think the title alone shows the legal and technical complexity of the issue. This legislation can have life-or-death consequences for some people. Why are we being muzzled again when we are debating this bill? Why does the government not want to give us the time to do a good job? When will the government stop muzzling Parliament itself?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and some of the commentary with respect to the importance of the bill and the fact that it does have within its title the descriptive word “protecting”. In fact, that is very much what the subject of the bill is about. It is about protecting vulnerable Canadians, communities that sometimes are at risk, and in particular, a specific group of Canadians to whom we do have a fiduciary duty to protect, and that is mainly our children.

I would suggest that throughout the bill we find ample evidence of the intent and the purpose of the bill to protect that group of individuals, to protect those who, in the vast majority of cases, find themselves involved with prostitution because of coercion, because of violence, because of experience early in life, in many cases when they were children.

The empirical evidence and anecdotal evidence we have looked at indicates quite clearly that the vast majority of prostitutes today, men and women, were exploited, were victimized, often through violence and addiction, and brought into the life of prostitution, arguably through no fault of their own, at a vulnerable early age, at an early stage in their lives when those who were victimizing them should have been counted on to protect them.

Many of them were victimized by people in positions of trust—coaches, religious leaders—those who truly should have been there to protect them. Having prosecuted some of those cases, we find it is tragic in every sense of the word. However, with respect to the necessity to bring the legislation forward, I would suggest that we have a very set period of time.

There will be, I am told, some five hours to debate this legislation at this stage, which is only the second reading stage. It then would go to a committee where there will be opportunity not only to hear from members of Parliament and senators, if that process is duplicated over the summer, but perhaps most important, to hear from more Canadians in addition to the 31,000 who participated in the online consultation and the face-to-face round table consultations I took part in.

This is a broad, inclusive dialogue on a very important issue, one that we have to get right, one that is also informed by the Supreme Court's decision itself. It is certainly something that has to occur in an expedited fashion because of those timelines in place from the Supreme Court.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
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Essex Ontario

Conservative

Jeff Watson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the matter immediately before the House is the use of time allocation, which I point out is routinely used by Liberal majority governments in this country, but also, as I understand it, is used writ large in the mother Parliament back in the U.K.

As the minister has rightly pointed out earlier, this is an efficiency tool in terms of ensuring that the House, in a timely fashion, not only considers issues but makes decisions on them, and it also ensures that these matters get to committee in a timely fashion, so that the detailed study can occur. Not only is debate in the House important, but the discussion and input of Canadians in the broader civil society is important as we deal with an issue that has a lot of diverse opinions among the Canadian public.

I wonder if the minister could comment on the participation of Canadians in terms of consultation before the drafting of this particular bill. I wonder if he could comment further on what he was hearing in terms of specifics from Canadians and stakeholders and how that was incorporated into this particular bill, Bill C-36, that is before the House.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I heard extensively from individuals within my own community. I also heard from individuals during the cross-country consultation regarding the victims bill of rights, which I did in advance of the Bedford decision.

The most instructive part of those consultations was the view that those involved in prostitution are victims, that they have, as I said previously, in large part been brought into the life of prostitution through a number of complex social factors, whether they be homelessness, poverty, addiction, violence, or mental health issues. They are arguably some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

We are attempting to do this not only through legislative measures but through programming in partnership with provinces and territories and compassionate groups that exist within all of our communities, those who run homeless shelters, those who work specifically with anti-violence initiatives, those who spend time speaking with school children.

One of the target areas of education I would suggest is teenage boys. That is the demographic that we really need to speak to when we are talking about how we can end violence in its many forms, including domestic violence, which is so associated with this issue.

The bill, as complex as it may appear, is a well-informed bill that attempts to go to some of the root causation, that attempts to put the emphasis, the criminal liability, on the perpetrators, the johns, the pimps, and those who drive the demand for the purchasing and the commoditization of sexual services. The bill attempts to answer some of those very complex issues that have been around almost since time immemorial.

We need to get on with the business of the nation. This is an issue that affects many communities. This bill is a comprehensive, compassionate Canadian response. It needs to proceed because of the timelines and the pressure we are under, placed on us by the Supreme Court. The House has already done much of the good work in preparation for the bill. We have known of the subject matter for over six months. We want to get on with that. That is in part why we brought forward this time allocation motion, to see that the good work continues.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to hear the minister use the words “root causation”. I have heard him use those words in a different context when talking about others who talked about root causes in the past.

This is over 70 times that the government has used time allocation. Seeing as it is speeding up the process, I am wondering if the government is gathering together the necessary information in preparation for the committee to have a proper discussion on this issue based on all the facts before it.

People are worried that this particular piece of legislation would not meet the Supreme Court requirements, and it is debatable whether it would or not.

Is the government preparing to provide the committee with the legal advice that the government obtained when it was in the drafting stages of this particular legislation—and who provided that legal advice?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will always support the good work of committees. We will provide the committee with the relevant information it needs. The Department of Justice will be releasing further polling data. I have indicated quite clearly that is the case.

It is interesting to hear any sort of criticism of the use of closure coming from a member of the Liberal Party, the proverbial “wind sock” party of Canada, that simply turns and twists and adopts any particular position that would put it in a favourable light. The Liberal record of managing the finances of the country has been laid bare for all to see, going back to the sponsorship scandal, of which the member knows far more than I, as a member of the previous government.

We will continue to bring forward thoughtful legislation that responds to the need, and in this particular case, the task that was left to us by the Supreme Court when it struck down three provisions of the Criminal Code. This legislation would more than answer that particular task because it does have accompanying resources to help prostitutes find an off ramp into a better, healthier life that will help them deal with the causation that has led them to enter prostitution.

We are anxious to hear the position of members' opposite, their thoughtful suggestions as to how the bill could be improved. What we do get is just simply criticism and process. They want this sent back to the Supreme Court to let it do the good work.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
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NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government should perhaps do what any law-abiding Canadian citizen would do. When we must comply with a court ruling, we only have to do what we have been ordered to do. Every time the government is faced with this situation, that is, every time it introduces a bill, it twists itself into a pretzel to push its original idea through and try a second time to get around the court's orders. People are beginning to understand this strategy.

If it is truly urgent, I wonder why the bill is being introduced at the last minute, when we are about to adjourn for the summer. It may be because the government wants the debate to be held in the media only, in an emotional and somewhat irrational manner, so that it becomes impossible to have a debate, as is the case with the gun registry and abortion. There are many subjects that have become impossible to debate in our society.

The government is in large part responsible because it has allowed the debate to deteriorate and aired it in the media, instead of calmly discussing the issue in the House. It is becoming a sort of hysterical delusion that will last all summer. The government will certainly have time to think about it and perhaps will shred the bill during the summer. I hope it will be wise enough to do so.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know where to begin with that convoluted rambling and disjointed remark, other than to say that we are responding in a very comprehensive way. I would suggest that it is a compassionate way, with a particularly Canadian response to this age old issue of prostitution. Now the dilemma faced by having three major sections of the Criminal Code struck down in Bedford creates further vulnerability for prostitutes and communities.

Rather than the suggestion from the hon. member that this was somehow created by the government, this is directly responding to the Supreme Court's decision in Bedford. It is responding in a way that we believe would provide greater opportunities for prostitutes to leave that life. It is a life of inherently dangerous practice. They would be able to choose a better path for themselves and, potentially, their children. There is programming and specific resources to partner with the provinces and territories to help emphasize that there are, in fact, other opportunities.

We would be putting criminal liability squarely on the johns, the pimps, and those who benefit directly from those vulnerable individuals, who are predominantly victims and who, given the opportunity and the choice, would leave prostitution.

This is not to suggest that this would make prostitution disappear from the landscape of Canada or anywhere. It is what we believe to be a comprehensive response to a very difficult and complex social issue. It responds thoughtfully after great consultation with Canadians already, and will continue to do so following opportunity here in the House and later in committee. It will come back to the House in the fall.

It is a bit perplexing to hear from members opposite that they want more debate, but at the same time, they suggest that we are rushing it through. It is a bit like saying, “wash me, but do not make me wet”.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / noon
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his work on this important file. As he highlighted, the Bedford decision required Parliament to deal with this issue.

I would like to ask him what level of consultation there has been over the last number of months in preparing for today and for Parliament to now deal with it. I wonder if he could elaborate on the collaboration.

I wonder if he could also elaborate on why he thinks the opposition wants to delay this. We know that this is the theme song of the Liberals. Their motto is, “why did we not get it done?” Maybe he could elaborate on why the NDP would be so opposed to dealing with this important social issue. This responsibility has been passed on to Parliament by the Supreme Court, so why would the NDP want to dither and delay the passage of this bill?

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Langley, not only for his interest, but for his good work in supporting those who certainly are vulnerable in his community. I know he has a long-standing interest in the issue of human trafficking and helping vulnerable constituents and Canadians.

With respect to how this matter proceeds and the consultation that we have undertaken, some 31,000 Canadians and organizations took part in the online consultation, which was one of the largest consultations ever undertaken by the Department of Justice. We also had round tables and extensive discussions in communities across the country during the victims bill of rights. Prostitution issues were very often intertwined in those discussions around victimization. I am quite confident that this bill was undertaken with a lot of goodwill and effort to include the perspectives, interests, and input from many Canadians from across a wide spectrum of views on the subject matter.

As to why any member of Parliament would want to delay on this issue is really beyond me. I believe, quite frankly, that it is in the non-partisan interest of Canadians. We should move forward with a thoughtful response, a legislative and resourced response, to this issue in advance of December, which is the timeframe the Supreme Court has given us to respond.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I have been hearing for the past few minutes. What we have here is an absolutely unbelievable democratic deficit.

Notwithstanding the fact that we are talking about the 72nd time allocation motion, the members on the government benches seem to think that discussing and debating something is a stalling tactic.

I have always understood—and that will be my question to my colleague, the Minister of Justice—that the process of passing a bill begins with its introduction at first reading. Let us not forget that there are 308 MPs in the House. Over the course of five hours of debate, roughly 10 people can rise in the House to speak. Most of them will be Conservative members, some will be NDP and a few will be from the Liberals, the third party in the House. Members of the different parties have a chance to speak.

Once that study is complete, we more or less form an opinion. Personally, I think it is extremely important to listen to the opinions of my colleagues of all political stripes. For example, my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul, who has devoted her life to this subject, might say something in her speech that will affect us in a certain way if we keep an open mind, if we do not remain closed to the opinions of others all the time.

That is why I think debate at second reading is so important. It gives people from across Canada the opportunity to express themselves about the topic at hand. Then, study in committee calls on experts and people in the field to add to the debate. Once clause-by-clause review is done, the bill is sent back to the House.

Here it is all backward. The government stifles debate at second reading and often at third reading as well. In committee, the government does not really care about the amendments or opinions of others.

Does the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada not think that there is a huge democratic deficit here? Speaking to a subject that is just as important to us as it is to the government members is not a stalling tactic, it is a question of democracy.

Bill C-36—Time Allocation MotionProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for her commentary. I do not agree with it. I do not believe that there is any way a democratic deficit in bringing legislation before the House to be debated.

One of the principles of democracy, and I think my friend would agree, is that democracy requires people to show up. That seems to have been a problem in some cases, where legislation was brought forward and there were not enough members here to discuss it.

It is a bit of sucking and blowing to say that they want more debate but they do not have enough members here to actually take part in that debate. That is one end of the extreme.

The other is we have seen the use of debate to delay legislation. I know when I was minister of defence we had a very simple, straightforward bill, and the NDP debated it around the clock through three Parliaments. It finally passed the House, to the great benefit of the members of the Armed Forces.

My suggestion to the member is there is necessity and urgency that this bill proceed and that it get to committee. There will be five hours of debate here, as the member knows. Once it is in the committee stage, there will be more opportunities for all members of Parliament from all sides of the House to give direct input while hearing from various witnesses with expertise in the area.

Then the bill comes back again. The bill will come back before the House again. There is an opportunity at that time to voice views.

Rather than complain about the process, what I think would be helpful for Canadians would be for the NDP and the Liberals to actually take a position, to actually state, emphatically, how they feel about this legislation, what they would do to improve it, and how they might do things differently.

That would be a useful participatory process, rather than just chirping from the cheap seats about sending it to the Supreme Court for another reference or trying to divide bills. Let us talk about what their actual substantive, constructive criticisms and participation in the debate might actually be.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I am honoured to speak today to Bill C-36.

Today, we debate a Conservative bill that purports to comply with the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case. Allow me to briefly go over the circumstances that led us here today, debating the bill.

First, we are here today because a group of courageous sex workers challenged in court, and at great expense, the laws that govern prostitution, commonly known as the “Bedford case”. They did so because they wanted to ensure their work could be done in such a way that protected their security. They fought for safety and security not only for themselves, but for all people involved in the sex industry in Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with these women.

By way of background, and many Canadians may be unaware of this, prostitution is currently legal in Canada and has been so since the Criminal Code came into force in 1892. It is the many activities surrounding prostitution which the Criminal Code prohibits, including keeping, using, or transporting a person to a bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution or communicating in public for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. That was the state of the law prior to the Bedford case.

In December 2013, the Supreme Court struck down those sections related to bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution. The court ruled that these provisions violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person. The court also indicated that the provisions made it almost impossible to engage in prostitution in a safe environment, as a person selling could not legally operate indoors or hire security personnel. It was a historic ruling.

The court also provided government with one year to legislate and to do so with the interests of providing a legal framework that protected the safety of sex workers. This is this the government's response. Here, in part, is what the summary of Bill C-36 states:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) create an offence that prohibits purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose;

(b) create an offence that prohibits receiving a material benefit that derived from the commission of an offence referred to in paragraph (a);

(c) create an offence that prohibits the advertisement of sexual services offered for sale and to authorize the courts to order the seizure of materials containing such advertisements and their removal from the Internet;

(d) modernize the offence that prohibits the procurement of persons for the purpose of prostitution;

(e) create an offence that prohibits communicating — for the purpose of selling sexual services — in a public place, or in any place open to public view, that is or is next to a place where persons under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present;

As the justice minister said last week in his press conference and yesterday in his speech, the proposed measures criminalize prostitution for the first time since 1892. It criminalizes advertisement of sexual services and criminalizes communicating in public, which is one of the very components of the existing law that the court had already struck down in Bedford.

It is hardly surprising then that a great many of us in the House, and outside of the House, are concerned about the approach the government is taking. By criminalizing almost all aspects of prostitution, the government claims to have struck a made-in-Canada solution to the so-called Nordic model.

Sadly, Bill C-36 has as much, or more, in common with the prohibitionist approach in force in Albania, Croatia and Russia.

In Russia, brothels are illegal. Under Bill C-36, they would also be illegal in Canada. In Russia, living on the avails of prostitution is illegal. Under Bill C-36, this would also be illegal in Canada. In Russia, buying sex is illegal. Under Bill C-36, this would also be illegal in Canada.

In Russia, selling sex is illegal. Under Bill C-36, except for a few narrow exceptions, it will also be illegal in Canada. Selling sex will be illegal in public, it will be illegal near places where children may be, and it will be illegal with underage prostitutes. The differences between the Russian approach and this so-called made-in-Canada approach are relatively minor. I wonder if those present find it somewhat troubling that a country with Russia's human rights record has a regime governing this social issue that is so close to the legislation before the House today.

The purpose of the Bedford case in the Supreme Court decision was not to pass moral judgment on this activity but rather to provide a legal framework that would make the environment safe for the women and men involved in the sex industry. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Conservatives to introduce a law that provides a legal framework that would make sex work safer. Instead, we have a law that would do the opposite.

Bill C-36 should be about public safety, and I have concerns that the bill falls short of that goal. I am not at all convinced that this bill would protect the women and men who are engaged in sex work. I would also suggest that Bill C-36, in all likelihood, violates the charter with respect to section 7, on life, liberty, and security of the person; with respect to the provisions regarding cruel and unusual punishment; and in respect of the ban on advertising, the charter protection of free speech. One wonders whether the Conservatives and the justice minister know this.

Perhaps they know that this bill is unconstitutional, and perhaps they know that the bill is not consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in the Bedford case. Again, the Conservatives have a duty to comply with the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling in Bedford. I am not convinced that this is the case, and I doubt that the bill meets the letter or the spirit of the Bedford ruling. The one element of the court ruling they seem to have complied with was the one year provided by the Supreme Court to legislate in this matter.

The last couple of times they faced problems with legislation that clearly intersected with the Constitution, the Conservatives did a couple of things. The two most recent examples are the Senate reference and the Nadon appointment. With respect to the Senate reference, the Conservatives realized that there was a potential conflict with the Constitution and referred the matter to the Supreme Court. With the Nadon appointment, again they realized that there was a potential conflict with existing legislation. They took a couple of steps. First, they sought outside opinions with respect to compliance with the Supreme Court Act, and second, they also made a stated case to the Supreme Court.

In addition, there are provisions within the Department of Justice Act, section 4.1, that come into play with respect to the constitutionality of the legislation. Undoubtedly the government has an opinion pursuant to section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act.

There is no doubt that this bill is also headed, eventually, to the Supreme Court for adjudication on whether it complies with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the minister to date has refused to refer the bill to the Supreme Court to ensure its constitutional validity, resorting instead, as we saw yesterday, to personal insults. Nor have the Conservatives given any indication that they will disclose any time soon key evidence to support the bill.

Perhaps this bill is a political stopgap measure to meet the one-year deadline imposed by the Supreme Court. Perhaps the bill is a politically driven document with an overarching purpose, which is to punt this sensitive and important issue beyond the next election. Refusing a referral to the Supreme Court of Canada is consistent with this view.

As I have indicated on many occasions, the Conservatives have a track record of introducing legislation for political and partisan reasons. I hope that is not the case in this instance. I hope it is not the intent of the Conservatives to tee up the fundraising machine on an issue related to the safety of sex workers in Canada, in the context of the bill and the court ruling. I hope that the Conservatives will avoid what they have done so often in the past and will avoid the temptation to place their own political interests first.

I am also concerned about the lack of transparency as it relates to evidence. Why will the Minister of Justice not produce the evidence to support his assertion that the bill is constitutional? Why will he not waive his privilege and release the Department of Justice documents that prove that Bill C-36 passes the charter test, as is required under section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act? Why will the minister not release any evidence, if he has any, that would support his contention that the bill is charter compliant?

We know that he will not release any charter compliance documents, but the minister is also refusing to release any time soon the $175,000 study his department conducted on this topic. Canadians want to know why the minister is refusing to release the study, a study paid for with public funds and one that would have material relevance to the five-hour debate before this House and material relevance to the committee hearings that are undoubtedly on the horizon.

Might we speculate as to why the minister would refuse to release that study? Could it be that the study might contain facts or evidence inconvenient to the Conservative's position or political interests?

As criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt said in a recent blog about research and the recent cuts made at the justice department:

It is sometimes said that justice is blind—but justice policy should not be....

This is not about politics—quite the opposite—this is about evidence-based policy. It is only when legislation is based on legitimate evidence that there can be any confidence that the law will accomplish its goals.

Perhaps the Conservatives are not really concerned with achieving their criminal justice goals, (i.e., keeping the public safe). They have ignored evidence on drug policy, minimum sentences, and child protection—to name a few (resulting in multiple laws being struck down as unconstitutional).

In the lead-up to introducing this bill, the minister was claiming to have all the evidence he needed. What might that evidence be? The minister seems to be basing his bill in part on an online survey he conducted. A voluntary, non-scientific, online survey cannot be the basis for constructing a bill of such importance, let alone one mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada. We really should be concerned that the government seems to be using a Kijiji approach to public policy.

Also notably absent from this bill is any measurement mechanism. It is often said that we cannot manage it if we do not measure it. There are absolutely no provisions in this bill to collect data on the effectiveness of the measures contained in it. Data collection would help inform future amendments and fiscal measures to help the most vulnerable. The concern over this is magnified when we look at the millions of dollars cut out of the Department of Justice budget with respect to research. The reason given is that all too often the research did not align with government priorities. Against that backdrop, we have the absence of any data collection measures in this bill. It is indeed troubling.

An email was recently sent to the leader of the Liberal Party by a woman named Rachel. She wanted the opportunity to share her story about the impact this legislation will have on her. She wanted someone to listen to her and to the many others who feel similarly. Here is what she wrote:

Bill C-36 horrifies me—it will have a catastrophic effect on my safety and livelihood.

I have been an indoor sex worker for 5 years. I screen clients to ensure my safety. This involves asking for a reference from another sex worker, and then contacting that worker to ensure the potential client was respectful. If it's the client's first time seeing a sex worker, I require their full legal name, employment information, and cell phone number. I have a conversation via phone or email to discuss what services they are seeking, and what I am comfortable providing.... I check the client's information against a bad date list—a compilation of bad clients which is shared among sex workers. I always meet new clients in a public place prior to the session, for example: a coffee shop or the lobby of their hotel.

Because I am able to screen my clients, I have NEVER experienced violence during my 5 years in sex work. If you criminalize my clients, they will be unwilling to provide the screening information I require to ensure my safety. I will not have any client information to add to a bad date list should something go wrong. If they've seen a sex worker in the past, they will not want to provide that reference because it will mean they are admitting to committing a crime. I will be forced to accept clients that block their phone number, hide their identity, and have no references. This is a gift to sexual predators posing as clients.

Like 90% of sex workers in Canada, I work from an indoor space, known as an “incall”. If I am assaulted in my workspace, due to my inability to screen my clients, I will be unable to contact the police, as this would reveal the address of my incall location. This means police can easily arrest my good clients as they come to see me at my safe indoor location. I also risk being evicted by my landlord.

Bill C-36 will have an even worse impact on street based sex workers, who also rely on screening their clients to ensure safety. Street based workers need time to refer to bad date lists, to negotiate safer sex practices (such as condom use), and to assess the client. Bad date lists may include the time and date of an incident, a description of the vehicle, a licence plate number, a description of the person, etc. If clients are criminalized and fearful of arrest, they will try to speed up the process limiting the time a sex worker has to vet their client, and refer to a bad date list. Sex workers will be forced to jump into a vehicle with a client without taking these vital safety measures. They will be forced to work in isolated areas away from police, so their fearful clients will continue to see them. Bill C-36 is a gift to predators posing as clients.

This bill will not stop sex workers from working, it will just impede their ability to work safely.

The letter closes with:

Bill C-36 will kill sex workers if it is passed.

History will look poorly on this government for many reasons: the deliberate division, the attack on people who disagree, the politicizing of criminal law, the abuse of power, election fraud, and the list goes on, but I believe that what the government is doing here today with this bill is particularly concerning.

The government's history of politicizing every issue causes us great concern about what it has done with the bill before the House. Never should the interests of a political party trump the safety of Canadians.

Many people believe that Bill C-36 will hurt people, and it will potentially force sex workers into the back alleys without the protection they need.

Parliament has a duty to protect Canadians, whether or not we personally morally agree with their profession. The Conservatives have a duty to obey the letter and the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling in the Bedford case. On all these counts, the Conservatives have failed and are doing so for political reasons, and for that they will have to live with the consequences should Bill C-36 be enacted by Parliament.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of concerns about the opposition to the bill. A lot of the opposition is based on the assumption that the current status quo is full legalization.

In the sex worker's letter he quoted, the lady was describing activities that are already illegal. Advertising, soliciting sexual services, and doing it both online and in public are already illegal activities. If these people are already willing to give their information during this illegal activity, I am not sure why they would not under this new legislation.

This legislation actually does meet the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling. It was clear in its ruling that it was not only open to it but was requesting that Parliament seek legislation around prostitution. To just decriminalize it or legalize it all we would have to do is let the year go by. It was clear that it wanted to do something more than just get rid of all legislation.

I would like the member to comment on this and explain how this does not meet the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, when the member says that many of the complaints raised by Rachel in her letter to our leader are already illegal, perhaps he should be reminded that if we take that statement as true, there is a Supreme Court of Canada decision that says the laws that make whatever conduct he says is illegal are unconstitutional.

If we take what he says as true, that these parties are engaging in illegal activity, the highest court in our land has said that the laws that make it an illegal activity do not withstand the scrutiny of the charter.

The second part of the member's question was exactly how does this offend Bedford. In the Bedford decision, Parliament was directed to focus on the safety and the security of the most vulnerable in our population. Instead of focusing on their safety and security, in many places and in many aspects, the legislation makes them criminal.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very thoughtful and analytical discussion. The government cut funding to the Status of Women, closed 12 of 16 regional offices, defunded the National Association for Women and the Law, CRIAW, undermined pay equity, changed EI, and jeopardized women in low-income and part-time work, provided no national child care program, no housing, said no to an inquiry into the murder of 1,200 aboriginal women. It now purports to care about women?

Conservatives have made it very clear over the last eight years that they have no regard and they are not interested at all in the welfare of women. How can we possibly trust them to look after the most vulnerable of women?

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I frankly could not agree more. What we have seen with the government is a single-minded obsession with balancing the budget and everything else is way down the list. Veterans are way down the list. Charter rights are way down the list. Certainly in this case, sex workers who have had the benefit of a Supreme Court decision are well down the list.

It is a sad indicator on where we are in Parliament today that the single-minded obsession with matters of finance have put the rights of individuals and the charter and the interests of the regions as far down the list as it has. Unfortunately, such is the world in which we presently live.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, to my colleague from Charlottetown, the Canadian Federation of University Women is a group that has been staunchly supporting the so-called Nordic approach based on women's equality and based on reducing violence and exploitation of women and children. It has responded to the Conservative government's bill by issuing a press release strongly criticizing the bill for criminalizing vulnerable women in the sex trade.

Could my colleague please explain why criminalizing prostitution further endangers these victims of exploitation?

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I believe much of the answer is found in the letter to our leader from Rachel.

There is no more striking example than the provisions within the bill with respect to those who are underage. I could think of no one in the context of the Bedford decision who is more vulnerable than an underage prostitute working the streets. The bill criminalizes anyone who is under age 18 for communicating for the purpose of prostitution. It singles out the most vulnerable and puts a criminal sanction on their work.

The result of this would be to push everything into the shadows. As Rachel so eloquently said, this is a gift to sexual predators posing as clients.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, last week the member's colleague, the member for Malpeque and the Liberal critic for public safety, agreed with the NDP critic for justice and myself that the majority of the women who find themselves in this ugly trade are in fact exploited. By the way, we did not say that it is 51% who are exploited. The studies we have seen show that it is more like 90% of the women are exploited, and some would say it is higher than that. Do we not have an obligation as parliamentarians to protect those people?

Earlier today, Katarina MacLeod, a former sex worker, appeared at a press conference and told her story. She detailed a harrowing story of abuse, rape, and exploitation starting at the age of five when she was molested, and it lasted through her 15 years as a sex worker. She went on to say that if Bill C-36, the government's proposed prostitution legislation, had been around when she was a sex worker, there would have been no demand and no supply, and that maybe she would be less scarred today. She said, “I can tell you there is no safe location for prostitution“. Not inside, not out on the streets.

I wonder if the member could comment on that as well as on protecting our communities.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, we absolutely do have an obligation to protect those most vulnerable. That is what the Supreme Court of Canada has directed Parliament to do. However, Bill C-36 would fail in that regard. The bill would drive prostitution into the dark corners. It would make it less safe. It would not, in any way, protect the most vulnerable. It fact, it would have the opposite effect.

The decision to double down on criminal sanctions in the face of a complex social problem is absolutely consistent with what we have seen with the Conservative government. When the only thing one has in one's tool kit is a sledgehammer, everything looks like a rock. If there is a complex social problem, the Conservatives have a mandatory minimum for that. The very problem with the overarching approach of the current government is that when faced with complex social problems, the Conservatives seem to always have a one-size-fits-all solution.

Criminalizing the very people who need protection is the wrong way to go, but, sadly, that is the approach that has been chosen.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act. As my hon. colleagues know, this bill is the first of its kind in Canada. It is historic. For the first time in Canada's history the buying of sexual services would be illegal. For the first time, women trafficked into prostitution would not be treated as nuisances, but with dignity. For the first time, the Government of Canada would provide robust funding to help women and youth escape prostitution and their traffickers.

I want to begin by addressing one of the key myths that is being spread by the pro-legalization lobby. What Canadians have been told over the past week in the newspapers and other media is that prostitution is a legitimate occupation for women and that it is entirely separate from sex trafficking and exploitation. This is a lie. Prostitution exploits women, youth, and vulnerable populations. It escalates gender inequalities by turning women's bodies into a commodity to be bought, sold, rented, and exploited by men. In short, prostitution provides an avenue for abuse and violence.

Research of prostitution in Canada and abroad reveals that women in prostitution, whether by coercion or by choice, experience alarming levels of violence and abuse. One of the clearest links between prostitution and human trafficking is found in a recent empirical analysis of human trafficking trends in over 150 countries. Researchers at the University of Goettingen's Department of Economics found that, on average, legalizing prostitution increases human trafficking inflows.

The inseparable link between prostitution and sex trafficking has been recognized and adopted across political lines in Canada. In 2007, the report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, of which I was the vice-chair, adopted this position. “Turning Outrage into Action” said:

Like the majority of witnesses appearing before us, we came to the conclusion that prostitution is closely linked to trafficking in persons.

That is our own parliamentary report. It goes on to say:

We believe that prostitution is a form of violence and a violation of human rights. The Committee feels that the prostitute’s consent is irrelevant, because you can never consent to sexual exploitation.

This position was supported by the Conservative, Liberal, and NDP members who sat on the committee. The members for London—Fanshawe, York West, and Ahuntsic all sat on the committee with me and will remember the compelling evidence that we heard from survivors.

Let me be clear. Prostitution is the avenue or means for pimps and traffickers to sell women and youth. We cannot separate this fact, and we cannot separate prostitution from sex trafficking. Prostitution is the means for sex traffickers to profit off the exploitation and abuse of others by pimps. If Canada wants to seriously reduce sex trafficking, it must target those who drive prostitution through demand, namely, the johns. It must also target those who profit from and facilitate it, namely, the pimps. That is why Bill C-36 would make buying sex illegal for the first time, and it would significantly strengthen provisions against pimps and traffickers.

It has been appalling to hear from pro-legalization lobbyists over the past weeks that criminalizing the demand would make things more unsafe for women in prostitution and that it would have devastating consequences. This argument is absolutely absurd. One study that interviewed 100 prostitutes in Vancouver found that violence is the norm for women in prostitution. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, stalking, rape, battering, and torture are the points on a continuum of violence, all of which occur regularly in prostitution.

This violence is perpetrated by johns and pimps. Let us be realistic. When looking to buy sex, a john is not concerned with whether the prostitute is free, underage, or trafficked, nor is he going to ask. In his mind, he wants to buy sex because he has been taught that it is acceptable to buy people to be used at his disposal. That is why we want to target johns.

There has been a paradigm shift that is so important in this country. Canada's approach must recognize that prostitution itself, not just violence, is a form of violence.

For over a century, the violence and the exploitation of women and youth in prostitution have been ignored. The historical approach to prostitution in our great country has never recognized the harms of prostitution. It has focused only on hiding it from public view by incorporating offences based on the nuisance of prostitution in the Criminal Code. Regarded as public nuisances, prostituted individuals were arrested and criminalized at much higher rates than the men creating the demand for commercial sex.

This profoundly misguided approach to prostitution and the treatment of prostitutes changed in this month, on June 4, 2014. This shift in the approach to prostitution is clearly evident in the preamble to Bill C-36, which states:

....the Parliament of Canada recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity...

The preamble also highlights the goals of the new legislation:

...to protect human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on women and children...

The average age of entry into prostitution in this country is between 14 and 16 years of age. These are children.

Second, the preamble says:

...it is important to denounce and prohibit the purchase of sexual services because it creates a demand for prostitution...

Third, the preamble says:

...Parliament wishes to encourage those who engage in prostitution to report incidents of violence and to leave prostitution.

Another indicator of this fundamental paradigm shift is in the location of the new offences in our Criminal Code. Previously, before this bill, all prostitution-related offences were located in part VII of the Criminal Code, under “Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting”. The new offences target the purchase of sexual services and target pimps. These offences will now be located in part VIII of the Criminal Code, under “Offences Against the Person and Reputation”. This is a distinct acknowledgement that the act of buying sexual services is an offence against an individual. It is an offence against the most vulnerable individuals in our society, who are enslaved by a violent pimp, poverty, or drug addiction.

It is for this reason that this new approach will be supported by $20 million in new funding, including support for grassroots organizations that help individuals exit prostitution. It is essential that with new legislation we provide support to organizations that help women escape prostitution from all circumstances.

As a nation, we are at a crossroads in this country at this moment, but this is not an experiment in which we can play with the lives and freedoms of future generations. The other option for Canada is to legalize or fully decriminalize prostitution. This approach will also lead Canada into a fundamental paradigm shift to regulate prostitution like any other industry.

It is an appalling shift that would have a severe negative impact on women and youth. I am shocked that such legislation has been advocated by prominent members of the NDP front bench and adopted as party policy. That is also what I am listening to this morning from the Liberals.

Legalization has also been adopted as an official party policy by the Green Party of Canada, to the dismay of many of its members. On a blog post on the official website of the Green Party, Green Party blogger Steve May offers the following critique of this Green Party policy:

I believe it is the wrong policy for our Party at any time, but especially at this time when so many voices, such as Victor Malarek's, are now just starting to be heard about the fiasco which sex trade legalization has caused elsewhere in the world.

We do not have to wait 10 to 20 years to see how legalization of prostitution works out. We only have to look to countries that legalized prostitution 10 to 15 years ago. Let us look at Germany, where prostitution has been fully legalized and regulated as an industry since 2001.

The deputy chairman of the German Police Association stated:

...politicians have shot themselves in the foot by implementing this law. Even though it was well intended, it has only strengthened the criminals.

Some prosecutors, also from Germany, have admitted that it made their work in prosecuting trafficking in human persons more difficult.

Also, in 2013 Germany's leading online paper, Der Spiegel interviewed a retired detective, who stated:

Germany has become a centre for sexual abuse of young women from Eastern Europe, and a playground for organized criminals from all over the world.

German police and women's groups now view legalization as little more than a subsidy program for pimps that makes the market more attractive to human traffickers.

Today there are over 400,000 prostitutes filling brothels located along the borders of that country. Brothels openly advertise “sex with all women as long as you want, as often as you want, any way that you want”, “sex, oral sex, oral sex without a condom, three-ways, group sex, gang bang”. Women are reduced to a sexual commodity to be used by sex buyers and disposed of when they are done. This is the future that the official opposition, along with the Green Party, is proposing for Canadian women and youth.

Let us look at another implication of the policies of the NDP and the Green Party, and now we have heard from the Liberal Party as well. If prostitution were to be legalized and treated as an industry, women would be expected to apply for all job openings before being eligible for EI, so if our daughters have just been laid off, they would be expected to apply at the local brothel before being eligible for EI. That is not the future I want for my daughters and it is not the future that Canadian parents want for their children.

We should also look at the New Zealand model, which has been brought up quite often. It is often cited by the pro-legalization lobby as a perfect example of decriminalization. However, this is far from the reality of the facts.

The National Council of Women in New Zealand stated that “The only winners from the prostitution reform act 2003 are men” and that they are “still seeing girls as young as 13 and 14 years old on the streets selling their bodies”.

The council also said that researchers found that human trafficking in children had increased since 2003, especially in ethnic minority groups. Over 10 years after decriminalization, New Zealand's aboriginal populations were still significantly overrepresented and among the most vulnerable in street prostitution. We know this is also true for Canadian aboriginals, and it would only increase under legalization.

In 2012, the Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that he did not think the act had achieved a reduction in street and under-age prostitution at all.

A shift toward the legalization or normalization of prostitution in Canada is advocated by prominent NDP members and the Green Party. This would be disastrous for women's equality and for our aboriginal populations and other populations. It would turn the clock back years for women's equality.

When Bill C-36 was tabled a week ago in the House, I was stunned to see how many journalists became constitutional legal experts overnight. They seem interested in speaking to the well-paid representatives of the pro-legalization lobby, who decried the bill as the worst thing that could ever happen to women in prostitution. We should not kid ourselves. Huge profits are made by a few people in prostitution, and the adult industry stands to lose a lot of income.

The media largely ignored the front-line agencies that work with women in prostitution, the families of victims, and, most importantly, survivors themselves. I want to share their voices and experience with the House.

Katarina MacLeod, a survivor, says:

As an ex-prostitute who spent 15 years being raped and degraded daily, I had no one to turn to and there were no resources. ... Prostitution damages your mind body and soul. This why I am in total support of Bill C-36 which offers these woman an exit strategy....

This is from the daughter of a prostituted woman:

I was very relieved to hear that Bill C-36 is going to be implemented. ... I am glad our voices are being heard. My mother was a prostitute and I want no women or her children to have to experience that damage. I am in agreement with bill C-36 since it will be getting at the root of this issue, which is the people who purchase sex. As well as providing help for the women to exit this lifestyle, which is very necessary.

This is from the parents of a young woman who was brutally beaten by her pimp and later found murdered. They wrote to the Minister of Justice saying:

...it is our belief and our experience that tells us that if buying sex and selling others for sex was illegal, our daughter would still be alive and would be living a fulfilling and satisfying life. We strongly urge you to use this opportunity to enact new laws that would severely penalize those who buy sex, (the johns) and sell others for sex, (the pimps). Please act to protect the vulnerable and stop the exploitation and violence against young women and girls.

I want to note that front-line agencies and women's groups have raised a concern about the clause that would prohibit the selling of sex around public places where youth can be found, like schools and community centres. Some have said that the intent of this clause is focused on preventing youth from being solicited by johns, and this is a very good thing.

However, front-line agencies—who, I must emphasize, are strongly supportive of everything else in this bill—are concerned about unintended consequences that the clause could have on vulnerable women in prostitution. These are valid concerns, and I hope they will bring these concerns and suggestions forward when Bill C-36 is studied at committee.

It is my hope that Bill C-36 will be supported by members on all sides of the House. Having spoken to many MPs privately, I know support for the approach proposed in Bill C-36 does indeed cross party lines. There are many good people on all sides of this House who are supporting this bill. As parliamentarians, we share a collective desire for Canada to be a leader on human rights in the international community.

Proponents of legalized prostitution claim that it is the only option for a progressive society. I disagree. A truly progressive society encourages the equality and dignity of women, not the prostitution of women. I want to build a Canada that targets predators and pimps, helps vulnerable individuals escape prostitution, and upholds the dignity of women. We can do better for women and youth, and we must.

We have always heard about the Bedford case, and we hear voices across the way saying, “Oh, it is going to have a constitutional challenge.” I must remind those members that it was actually the Supreme Court that sent it to Parliament to build something new. This is what the Supreme Court said: “It will be for Parliament, should it choose to do so, to devise a new approach, reflecting different elements of the existing regime”.

The Supreme Court of Canada did something very wise. Instead of bringing down the law and saying, “This is the law”, it allowed 12 months for Parliament to reflect. I have to tell the House that thousands of people are watching these speeches today. Thousands of people are listening to individual MPs and what they are saying. Thirty-one thousand responses came. In my office today I have postcards that I have not even talked about. There are 36,000 signatures on petitions and over 50,000 signatures on postcards. This is Canada; I do not know all these people.

I have worked with sex workers and trafficking victims for a very long time. Since this bill was tabled, I have had a myriad of emails. Very many people want to come to the committee and support Bill C-36. They talk about maybe making little tweaks so we could do better.

The country is listening. The country is listening to the fact that here in Canada, members on all sides of the House have to ensure that we target the johns and ensure without a doubt that we provide programs and exit systems for prostitutes and trafficking victims, because behind the scenes the story that does not get out is about the bullying, the terrible threats, the coercion.

I heard from one 16-year-old girl whose boyfriend paid for a lot of things for her and then said, “You owe me $4,000 and you have to service Glen in the next room”. He was a trafficker. She was not going to do it. She said, “You're my boyfriend. I don't have to do that”. He said, “Yes, you do. I know where your sister goes to school. I know where she does her sports activities. We will get her if you don't do this”, and so that 16-year-old did it.

She got out. She is out of the trafficking ring now, and she is speaking out. We hear these voices all across this country.

This Parliament has to be responsible and support Bill C-36.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her passionate speech. I would not expect any less. Anyone who knows her or has seen her in action during the study of her private member's bill by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights knows how passionate she is about the human trafficking issue.

Now I am seeing her in another light, as we are focusing on prostitution and the action to be taken in the wake of the Bedford decision. I will present my arguments a little later. First, she spoke to us about treating victims with dignity. I will ask her the question that came to mind in English, so that she can answer right away, since she will not have missed a single word of it.

How does clause 15 amount to treating the prostitutes with dignity? I am curious to know her opinion on that matter.

She is a proponent of the Nordic model. Everyone who is a proponent of the Nordic model said that it is needed. We cannot just have the Nordic model, where we criminalize the johns, the buyers, without putting substantial amounts of money into getting the prostitutes out of the business. How can she look at me seriously and say that $20 million for a country like ours, with a problem that big, is enough money? It is laughable, and all the people who would support the bill are in shock about that.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to look at her, because I am very proud. This is not the Nordic model. It is a made-in-Canada model. Speaking of that $20 million, my goodness, look at how big Canada is and how big the United States is, and when the United States first did this, it first put in $10 million. We put in $20 million, right off the bat.

This is a wonderful first step. I am proud of it, and I will look anyone in the eye because the paradigm has shifted. We now look at the survivors, the victims of human trafficking, with dignity and compassion. That is what our government has done. It has showed compassion. We also targeted the johns. They do not get off scot-free anymore

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, there were actually more than a few things in her speech with which we could agree. The Liberal Party is in support of the measures that are contained in the bill that govern human trafficking. If they could be hived off, that would be something we could support. What we do not support are the potential constitutional problems.

The member spent much of her speech talking about the awful situation in countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution, such as Germany. There were options available to the government. She spoke passionately against one, legalization or decriminalization. The other option, which the government has chosen, which is really the approach used in Russia, with a few tweaks, is a prohibitionist model. Would she not agree that there were other options in the middle that would be closer to what the Supreme Court of Canada directed and would more properly and more adequately protect those who are vulnerable?

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think his question is a little misguided. Actually, this is what the Supreme Court said:

It will be for Parliament, should it choose to do so, to devise a new approach, [a made-in-Canada approach] reflecting different elements of the existing regime.

I have talked about many different countries. We live in the best country in the world. The true north, strong and free, is right here in Canada. What our government has done has the right balance. The right balance is targeting the johns. The right balance is a compassionate view and an acknowledgement of what has happened to the victims and the survivors. The $20 million is a great first step to make it happen.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I feel privileged to ask a question of the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, who is a model and a source of inspiration for our government in its fight against human trafficking and for the victims of prostitution.

I want to commend the remarkable work of our colleague. We are very proud to stand with her in this party. She has been a great source of inspiration. She met this morning with people who have been victims of prostitution and have been able to exit. I would like to hear this from the member. Is it important for our government to put exit strategies in place for those victims of prostitution? What is the profile of those individuals? Who is the typical person this bill is aimed at supporting and helping?

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the public safety minister, for this very important question, and I commend all of his great work on this file.

I have met with many trafficked victims. Trafficked victims are vulnerable, beautiful, young women and, these last five years, more and more young boys. The bill would provide them the freedom to be able to leave prostitution or the claws of human traffickers and start new lives. This bill would also make the buying of sex illegal, so the traffickers would not be the big bullies anymore. They would be marginalized.

Canada has made a tremendous statement. It has said that this country will not allow youth—because the youth enter prostitution, on the average, between 14 and 16 years of age—and others to be bought and sold. There is no typical person. It is the predator who looks at the opportunity to draw them in.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech and all the work she has been able to do.

I think it would be important to add a few things. I listened to my opposition colleagues, and after analyzing the Bedford decision and the bill from start to finish, I think that it would hold up constitutionally. I will explain why.

The Bedford decision states that in the current legal context, we cannot criminalize the practice of prostitution. The decision also tells legislators to decide on the legal context that will be put in place to deal with prostitution. The government decided to declare prostitution illegal.

In doing so, the government has established its right to criminalize certain players as pimps and johns. In addition, the government gave immunity to prostitutes. In my opinion, this approach is the fairest for Canada. It presents a Canadian model and, on that point, I hand it to them.

However, I disagree with criminalizing prostitutes in a public place. When immunity is adopted, it must be provided across the board, be it in massage parlours or in public places.

I would encourage the government to reconsider its position because criminalizing johns acting in public view is enough. Criminalizing pimps acting in public view is enough.

There is no need to criminalize prostitutes working in public places. This is how we can give these women, the most vulnerable people on the streets, the opportunity to report the people who assault them.

I would like to propose a friendly amendment.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for her support of the bill and her very good comments.

This bill has a really good balance. I was a school teacher for 23 years, and people had to report to the office when they came in. There were pedophiles outside the fence who would lure the older girls. With this bill, we would be protecting the children too. It is not so much the prostitutes; it is the johns. The johns not only solicit the prostitutes or the trafficked women, but if they see attractive girls, they will go after them as well. It the bill has a nice balance. There is no arresting of the prostitutes, but that is something we need to bring to committee and hammer out at committee, where those concerns can come forward.

Second ReadingProtection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not exactly a clear-cut debate. The member for Ahuntsic was saying that the government had decreed that prostitution was illegal, but that it was not saying that prostitution is now illegal in Canada. Selling is okay, but buying is not, and under some circumstances, selling is not okay.

With Bill C-36, the government tried to take considerable liberties, but it did not have the courage or the deep conviction to do what the member for Kildonan—St. Paul would like to see. The member took great pains to talk about all aspects related to pimps and vulnerable people, but she did not give very good answers to questions about the major problem with Bill C-36: clause 15. This clause criminalizes the very women, the very victims that the Conservatives go on and on about wanting to protect.

Positions aside, we all take our role seriously. I take my role as the official opposition's justice critic seriously, especially when I have to go before the NDP caucus, where it is not always easy to make recommendations.

The member for Kildonan—St. Paul is quite right in saying that we all have concerns about prostitution and human trafficking. However, it is not always easy to enforce laws that comply with the Constitution and our charter, since this government is extremely secretive.

Instead of sharing its information with us, the government introduced Bill C-36 at first reading, which was a response to a Supreme Court ruling. We are not asking for 15 legal opinions. We only want one opinion of the Supreme Court assuring us that the clauses of Bill C-36 are in compliance. This would make us fell more confident that we had a solid foundation. We are often forced to rely on our own resources, which are not government resources, to try to fulfill our common obligation as members of the House.

We sometimes have to enforce laws and set aside our own personal convictions. The other day, a news report made it clear just how passionate the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is about this issue. I understood her personal and religious convictions, and I respect that. However, in my role as justice critic, I need to examine laws and sometimes set my personal convictions aside. That is part of my role as representative for the people of Gatineau.

The government is so secretive that it is more than happy to use this expeditious process on an issue as important as prostitution, the world's oldest profession. Good luck to anyone who thinks they can get rid of it. We are all working to ensure that one day no one will feel the need to turn to prostitution. We hope that one day people will choose this line of work solely because of their own personal choices or beliefs. We are doing everything we can do achieve that, but no method in the world is perfect.

The government did a quick online consultation but no one has no idea how scientifically valid it is. It did not deny the fact that pretty much anyone was able to say whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We do not know where the responses came from; we do not have all of the details.

However, the government is not making that scientific poll public, and it will not release it unless it is forced to do so. I believe that it will not share the information before the end of July, based on how the minister has responded to questions in the House.

We will likely be examining Bill C-36 by then, given that it is subject to a time allocation motion. We will vote on it tomorrow, if not today. The committee will meet in early July, so that leads me to believe that we will have the opportunity to study the bill, but without that information. I find that unfortunate.

As I said, we rely on our resources. This bill is important to me; I want to do the right thing.

When I make a recommendation to my colleagues, I want it to be based not on my convictions and my own impressions, but on a careful analysis of the Bedford decision and on consultations. Like many here in the House, I consulted a lot of people. Many people wanted to talk to me about every aspect of this issue.

I heard from those who are advocating decriminalization and others who want prostitution to be legalized. Groups came to talk to me about the Nordic model. I heard from sex workers. Some of them like the idea of the Nordic model, others do not. I met with nearly every individual and every group that will come in July to tell us what they think about the issue.

I always shared my concerns with everyone I spoke to, and I think that we came to a consensus about the issue of safety.

As for the issue of safety, I believe it is very important to repeat the points made by the Supreme Court of Canada. The government and various Conservative members who spoke before me took a bit of liberty when quoting the Supreme Court. They attributed to the Supreme Court some things that it did not necessarily say, or they omitted, probably because it is to their advantage, certain aspects or certain words in some phrases, which are worth their weight in gold.

When we go out into our constituencies and people talk to us about prostitution, they all refer to the Bedford ruling. What is the Bedford ruling? I think it is important to review the main principles established in the Bedford ruling to determine whether Bill C-36 is in keeping with the ruling and whether it will pass the test included in that ruling. I am reading from the ruling:

...current or former prostitutes, brought an application seeking declarations that three provisions of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, which criminalize various activities related to prostitution, infringe their rights under s. 7 of the Charter...

Despite Bill C-36, section 7 of the charter still exists.

What are the three provisions?

...s. 210 makes it an offence to keep or be in a bawdy-house; s. 212(1)(j) prohibits living on the avails of prostitution; and, s. 213(1)(c) prohibits communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. They argued that these restrictions on prostitution put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk, by preventing them from implementing certain safety measures—such as hiring security guards or “screening” potential clients—that could protect them from violence. B, L and S also alleged that s. 213(1)(c) infringes the freedom of expression guarantee under s. 2(b) of the Charter, and that none of the provisions are saved under s. 1.

Everyone knows that the charter can be violated. If it is all right in a free and democratic society, it passes the test of section 1. Those were the arguments made by the three plaintiffs in the case.

I will spare you everything that was said in the Supreme Court, but suffice it to say that the three plaintiffs won on every count. Sections 210, 212(1)(j) and 213(1)(c) of the Criminal Code were declared incompatible with the charter. The declaration of invalidity was suspended for one year, giving the government time—

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a little irritating for those who are watching us and were here for the first part, but not the second part, or vice versa.

I was explaining that this government has aborted this, so to speak, in the sense that the Conservatives have not mentioned the Bedford decision much. They quoted one line from the decision to justify their Bill C-36.

It is important for hon. members in the House to clearly understand what the Supreme Court of Canada said about the three sections in question, those challenged by the claimants and the respondents/appellants on cross-appeal. According to the Supreme Court:

The impugned laws negatively impact security of the person rights of prostitutes and thus engage s. 7…The prohibitions all heighten the risks the applicants face in prostitution—itself a legal activity.

Earlier, I heard one of my colleagues in the House say that she was very pleased to hear that prostitution is now illegal. However, Bill C-36 does not go that far. With all due respect to the Conservatives and some other members, the bill before us does not make prostitution illegal.

The Conservatives left a few little loopholes because they know that this bill may also be a problem. It would be interesting to debate the issue of whether prostitution can be made completely illegal in Canada. I am going to do as the courts and judges would do: I am going to reserve judgment because the question is not before the court. The Supreme Court ruling goes on to say:

They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky—but legal—activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks. That causal connection is not negated by the actions of third-party johns and pimps, or prostitutes’ so-called choice to engage in prostitution. While some prostitutes may fit the description of persons who freely choose (or at one time chose) to engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution, many prostitutes have no meaningful choice but to do so. Moreover, it makes no difference that the conduct of pimps and johns is the immediate source of the harms suffered by prostitutes. The violence of a john does not diminish the role of the state in making a prostitute more vulnerable to that violence.

...compare the rights infringement caused by the law with the objective of the law, not with the law’s effectiveness. That is, they do not look to how well the law achieves its object, or to how much of the population the law benefits [or harms]. The analysis is qualitative, not quantitative. The question under s. 7 is whether anyone’s life, liberty or security of the person has been denied by a law that is inherently bad [that is the heart of the matter]; a grossly disproportionate, overbroad, or arbitrary effect on one person is sufficient to establish a breach of s. 7. [The test is stringent.]

...the negative impact of the bawdy-house prohibition (s. 210) on the applicants’ security of the person is grossly disproportionate to its objective of preventing public nuisance. The harms to prostitutes identified by the courts below, such as being prevented from working in safer fixed indoor locations and from resorting to safe houses, are grossly disproportionate to the deterrence of community disruption. Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes. Second, the purpose of the living on the avails of prostitution prohibition in s. 212(1)(j) is to target pimps and the parasitic, exploitative conduct in which they engage. The law, however, punishes everyone who lives on the avails of prostitution without distinguishing between those who exploit prostitutes and those who could increase the safety and security of prostitutes, for example, legitimate drivers, managers, or bodyguards.

I was a little worried by some remarks I heard on panels I participated in. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice in particular suggested that, at any rate, a brothel, even though it is kept by people who are consenting, is not a place we want to see, that it is a nuisance and a form of exploitation. That is not quite what the Supreme Court tells us.

It also includes anyone involved in business with a prostitute, such as accountants or receptionists. In these ways, the law includes some conduct that bears no relation to its purpose of preventing the exploitation of prostitutes. The living on the avails provision is consequently overbroad. Third, the purpose of the communicating prohibition...is not to eliminate street prostitution for its own sake, but to take prostitution off the streets and out of public view in order to prevent the nuisances that street prostitution can cause. The provision’s negative impact on the safety and lives of street prostitutes, who are prevented by the communicating prohibition from screening potential clients for intoxication and propensity to violence, is a grossly disproportionate response to the possibility of nuisance caused by street prostitution.

I have often heard that from sex workers. They told us how important it is for them to communicate. As strange as it may seem for those who are not part of that industry and have never even gone anywhere near it, it is important for those women to be able to have a kind of reference system. In some places, they talk to each other in order to make sure that they are not putting their lives in danger.

The law is therefore not minimally impairing. Nor, at the final stage of the s. 1 inquiry, is the law’s effect of preventing prostitutes from taking measures that would increase their safety, and possibly save their lives, outweighed by the law’s positive effect of protecting prostitutes from exploitative relationships. The impugned laws are not saved by s. 1.

Allow me to quote the Supreme Court's most important conclusion. The government always likes to read this sentence and this sentence only: “It will be for Parliament, should it choose to do so, to devise a new approach…”. Sometimes, it says the rest of the sentence very quickly: “…reflecting different elements of the existing regime”.

In fact, however, the paragraph reads as follows:

Concluding that each of the challenged provisions violates the Charter does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as…

This is the most fundamental point. The Supreme Court of Canada has not told the government that the Minister of Justice can do whatever he likes and that as long as he comes up with something different from what is in the current Criminal Code, it will be fine, that is his perfect right. That is not what the Supreme Court said. It says that it is not precluding the government from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.

As a result, since setting limits on prostitution is a complex and delicate subject, it is up to Parliament to act, should it choose to do so. That is the door that the Supreme Court has left wide open for Parliament. The Criminal Code already includes provisions prohibiting the exploitation of minors. We are going to hear a lot of talk about that from the Conservative benches, since they will want to prohibit that. However, it is already in the Criminal Code. Given that human trafficking is prohibited by the Criminal Code and that it has been recently improved with the bill that my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul introduced, we can refine it all.

The Supreme Court did not necessarily require the government to introduce something in the coming year. However, if it did not do anything, the three sections deemed unconstitutional would die a natural death because they put the health and safety of sex workers in danger.

What did the government do? It took a hammer and started hammering at random, saying that it would make a few changes so that everyone would think it was solving the problem with prostitution. I would have liked to at least feel that the Conservatives took this seriously when the minister talked about $20 million during his press conference.

I remember the discussions I have had with people from the Women's Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution. They told me how important it was. I want to quote Kim Pate, who is a member of the coalition:

Decriminalizing the women and holding accountable the men who buy and sell women and girls means nothing if women's economic, racial and social inequality is not addressed.

The Conservatives are still criminalizing prostitutes and investing a measly $20 million. It is ridiculous.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is the most creative speech I have heard on the subject for a very long time. I realize that in 2004 the member opposite was a Liberal and then decided to be an NDP candidate in 2006. She does not keep up with the NDP policy. For instance, the NDP premier and the NDP justice minister in Manitoba have highly endorsed everything. The justice minister asked for criminalizing the purchasers of sex, continuing to criminalize the activities of those who prey upon the victims, and providing meaningful support to the victims. That is everything that we have in Bill C-36.

When I listened to the speech, it brought back to memory Mrs. Emerson from Gatineau. She trafficked three girls and got seven years for doing that. There are a lot of people in the member's area who strongly support Bill C-36. Today, there are a lot of people listening. What about the members of her caucus? I know some of the members of her caucus fully support this bill. Could you talk to me about the challenges that you have in your caucus--

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I appreciate that she opened the door for me to talk about Manitoba's justice minister. She said that my speech was creative, but she should be addressing her compliments to the Supreme Court, since my speech focused on the ruling and I quoted some important passages. She is therefore calling a speech based on the Supreme Court ruling creative, but it was essentially just copying.

I found it rather strange to see a letter from my colleague that said:

“support from Manitoba government”.

It is funny, because I have had conversations about this. In fact, the minister of justice of Manitoba sent a letter on February 5, but it is now June 12. The member tables a letter that states, “We, in Manitoba, support the Nordic model.” When I asked questions this morning, they made a point of saying that it was not a Nordic model, but a made-in-Canada model.

Moreover, I look forward to hearing from Minister Swan of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba. I will let him scoop himself on Bill C-36 because he very clearly said that under no circumstances should prostitutes be criminalized and that ways to get them out of prostitution need to be provided for.

Two things he asked for are not there. I will not say how I would describe using his letter to make members of the House believe things, because I have too much respect for the member.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague on the justice committee for her speech and for reminding us that this all arose out of the Bedford decision and for reading back to us the portions of the Bedford decision to refocus the discussion.

She indicated in her speech that she has heard from advocates for decriminalization and has heard from advocates for the Nordic model. I am sure she would agree that what we have before us is neither. The made-in-Canada amendments bring what may have been a Nordic model starting point much closer to a made-in-Moscow bill.

Could the hon. member comment on the made-in-Canada sledgehammer that has been added to the Nordic model, and why that offends what the Supreme Court of Canada had to say?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will respond along the same lines. I am pleased because it gives me an opportunity to say a little more. A 20-minute speech is not long, especially for me. Therefore, the 10-minute question period allows me to expand on what I said.

I agree with him that we are not talking about one approach versus another. After reading Bill C-36, all the groups I met with agree that we need to get women out of drug addiction and poverty, which they do not always get into by choice. Sometimes they cannot help it. That is what we should work on.

All the Canadian groups that I heard agree that the government has really taken the worst route. The official opposition is not alone here. From what I have read, it seems that things did not go well within the Conservative caucus because they also have different opinions.

We have to stop all the posturing and focus on the real problem: the safety of sex workers. That is the message of the Bedford decision. At the same time, we have to work to get women out of poverty. If anyone can tell me with a straight face that he thinks the Conservative government's mission is to get women out of poverty, you will be able to knock me over with a feather.

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June 12th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-36 clearly leads to confusion. The Supreme Court was asking that the Criminal Code not make the practice of prostitution more dangerous. It never asked for moral approval of prostitution. I have read the Supreme Court judgment, and it does not ask for moral approval. That is where the confusion lies. This legislation seeks to prohibit the world of prostitution because that is the only way the Conservatives have found to prevent women from being in danger in that world.

The question I want to ask my colleague is relatively simple. Do we really think that the Criminal Code alone is a solution that will put an end to the problem of prostitution?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

Anyone with an interest in the matter knows that the answer is no. First, I do not know a lot of abusers who sit down to read the Criminal Code in order to find the penalty to which they are liable. If that were the case, there would be a lot less crime in the world.

We have to focus on what drives people in that direction. Having met groups like Maggie's, Stella and the Pivot Legal Society, I know that some people make this a career choice. Perhaps there will be no agreement on the exact number, but they exist. It is not up to me to tell people what they should do with their lives. However, I want to avoid exploitation and I want to make sure that people who are in the industry run as few risks as possible for their health, their lives and their safety, as the Bedford decision intends.

That is why I find it inconceivable that the government is only investing $20 million. Even though the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul says it is just a first step, the government still needs to demonstrate that it is taking this seriously. That kind of investment clearly shows the government's true intentions. If you look at the bill's preamble and then look at this $20 million, you know exactly what the government is trying to do with prostitution. That is unfortunate.

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June 12th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the Bedford decision. She will know that all of the appellants in the Bedford decision said that when they were out on the street, they were beaten up. When they were allowed to carry on the trade inside where they could screen clients and have security, they were much safer.

I wonder if the member heard from Katarina MacLeod, who spoke earlier today at a press conference and described being in sex work for 15 years on the streets. She talked about how she was beaten constantly. She said there is no safe location for prostitution. She also mentioned section 15, which talks about circumstances in which there might be children present. It is a good idea not to communicate for the purposes of prostitution in front of children and not actually do sexual services in front of children.

I wonder if the member could tell us why she thinks balancing the protection of children in our communities is a bad thing.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to respond quickly.

I hope to study clause 15 more closely than the government has. The minister and the parliamentary secretary are not saying the same thing. It does not bode well for a bill when the justice minister and his parliamentary secretary interpret it differently.

There is also serious danger associated with the inability to advertise services via a third party. People are wondering if they will be prosecuted if information they post on their website goes through an Internet service provider.

If that is the case, what will they do? Will they have to beat their drums or send out smoke signals to advertise their services? That is what will drive them underground and put their lives in danger. That is the main problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I will get to that member's point about advertising in just a moment. She has it exactly wrong, as a number of commentators have. I will be happy to explain it to her. I hope she sticks around for my speech.

I am pleased to rise in support of Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act. This legislation represents the government's response to the Supreme Court of Canada December 2013 Bedford decision.

Before discussing the measures proposed by Bill C-36, it is important to examine the Bedford decision, which has informed Bill C-36 proposals for law reform.

The NDP justice critic mentioned a few moments ago that we had not talked that much about the Bedford decision in relation to our bill, so I am going to do that right now. I hope she has a chance to stay and listen to my speech.

Under the current law, neither the purchase nor sale of sexual services is illegal. Instead, existing criminal offences prohibit activities related to prostitution. In Bedford, the Supreme Court of Canada found three of these offences unconstitutional: first, the bawdy house offence with respect to the practice of prostitution under section 210; second, the living off the avails of prostitution offence, which is paragraph 212(1)(j) and third, the offence of communicating in a public place for the purpose of purchasing or selling sexual services, which is paragraph 213(1)(c).

The court suspended the effects of its decision for one year, until December 19, 2014. If there is no legislative response this ruling will result in decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities.

The Supreme Court of Canada found that the impugned offences violate section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is the security of the persons who sell their own sexual services, by preventing them from taking measures to protect themselves while engaging in a risky but legal activity. Such protective measures include independently selling sexual services from a fixed indoor location, hiring bodyguards and drivers, and negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places.

Specifically, the offences were found to be grossly disproportionate or over-broad with respect to the legislative objectives, which are to combat neighbourhood disruption or disorder and to safeguard public health and safety; to target pimps and the parasitic exploitative conduct in which they engage, which is living off the avails of the offence; and to take prostitution off the streets and out of public view in order to prevent street prostitution nuisances, which is the public communication offence in paragraph 213(1)(c).

The objectives of existing criminal law prostitution provisions as described by the court focus on the nuisance aspects of prostitution, with the exception of the living off the avails provision, which was found to target exploitative conduct. As I mentioned, construing these objectives and these offences narrowly led to findings that they were unconstitutionally over-broad and grossly disproportionate in relation to their objectives.

The Supreme Court of Canada was nonetheless clear that Parliament is not precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe on the constitutional rights of those who sell their own sexual services. That is precisely what Bill C-36 would do. It would criminalize the harmful conduct associated with prostitution while respecting the constitutional rights of all Canadians.

To start, Bill C-36 would make prostitution an illegal activity by criminalizing half of the prostitution transaction. This is done to show that the people who are trapped in this awful trade, largely women, are victims. It is showing compassion toward them.

Whenever prostitution, which involves the purchase and sale of sexual services, takes place, a criminal offence would be committed by the purchaser. This would be the first time in Canadian criminal law that purchasing sexual services from an adult has ever been criminalized.

The preamble in Bill C-36 explains why it is making prostitution illegal. It is a clear statement of the objectives of the Bill C-36 proposals for law reform, clarifying that Parliament sees prostitution as an inherently exploitative activity that always poses a risk of violence. Members of both the Liberal Party and the NDP have said that they agree, that it is exploitative, and that most of the people trapped in this awful trade are being exploited. Prostitution would no longer be viewed as creating merely neighbourhood disruption or disorder or street nuisances.

The preamble explains that prostitution is not only viewed as a form of exploitation of those subjected to it. It also recognizes the social harm caused by the normalization of sex as a commodity to be bought and sold, and it clarifies the importance of protecting human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, including women and children, and especially aboriginal women and girls.

Accordingly, Bill C-36 seeks to denounce and prohibit the demand for prostitution and to continue to denounce and prohibit procuring others for the purposes of prostitution and the development of economic interests in exploiting others through prostitution. We hope these measures, over time, will reduce the incidence of prostitution in Canada and the exploitation of those who are trapped in this business.

It also seeks to denounce and prohibit the commercialization and institutionalization of prostitution, particularly when it occurs in businesses such as strip clubs, massage parlours, and through escort agencies, which is largely the case in my city of Mississauga. Finally, the bill seeks to protect communities from the harms associated with prostitution, including related criminality and the exposure of children to the sale of sex as a commodity. These are robust objectives that go far beyond what the Supreme Court of Canada found were the objectives of the existing criminal offences governing prostitution, thereby fundamentally altering the premise of any future charter analysis.

The new offences would have to be constitutionally analyzed through an entirely new lens, one that sees prostitution as a gendered practice, implicating the equality of women and minorities, one that sees prostitution as a practice that exploits those who sell their own sexual services, and one that sees prostitution as causing both community and social harm.

The Supreme Court of Canada expressed concern that the existing offences prevent the selling of sexual services from fixed indoor locations, which the court found to be the safest way to sell sex. If members read the decision, that is exactly what the three appellants, Bedford, Lebovitch, and Scott, asked for. They had all been in the business. They had all been owners of escort agencies, and they had all said, “When you're out on the street, you get beaten. There's no way to properly protect yourself”, and they asked the court to give them the ability to do it safely indoors.

Notably, Bill C-36 criminalizes purchasing sexual services but not selling sexual services. Furthermore, it immunizes from prosecution those who sell their own sexual services with respect to any part they may play in the new purchasing, material benefit, procuring, and, I will point out for my friend, advertising offences. I would recommend that she take a look at proposed paragraph 286.5(1)(b) contained in Bill C-36, and she will find there a specific exemption for that.

It has been misunderstood by a number of commentators in the media. John Ivison and Andrew Coyne of the National Post and Tim Harper of the Toronto Star, got it wrong. They failed to read that provision of the bill, and therefore, based their articles on the absence of the ability of a sex worker to advertise her own services. I would say that Mr. Harper was corrected subsequently by his own colleague, Tonda MacCharles, in a later article and also on CTV's Question Period. Don Martin of CTV also got it wrong. They just failed to read the bill.

I hope they will be listening today and have a chance to take a look at that provision and perhaps comment on how this bill does not prevent sex workers from properly advertising their services in a safe way. This means that persons who sell their own sexual services cannot be prosecuted when they sell sexual services from a fixed indoor location, whether independently or co-operatively. As long as the only benefit received from selling sexual services co-operatively in one location is the safety of proximity to others and each person receives only the profits from their own prostitution, no offence is committed. This approach comprehensively responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's safety concerns about the ability to sell sexual services indoors.

The Supreme Court of Canada's second major concern was that existing offences prevent those who sell sexual services from hiring bodyguards and others who may enhance their safety, but we all know the risks associated with allowing the development of economic interests in exploiting others through prostitution. Third parties may start out as bodyguards or drivers and then over time become abusive pimps who will stop at nothing to maximize profits by exploiting the prostitution of those who work for them, especially women and children.

Bill C-36 carefully balances the Supreme Court of Canada's safety concerns with the need to ensure that exploitative third parties are criminalized. It achieves this goal by criminalizing receiving a financial or other material benefit that is obtained or derived from the purchasing offence, limiting the scope of the offence through legislated exceptions and ensuring that the exceptions do not apply in exploitative circumstances.

The legislated exceptions ensure that persons who sell their own sexual services have the same ability to interact with others as anyone else. The bill would not criminalize those who legitimately receive material benefits from the prostitution of others.

Specifically, the exceptions clarify that the offence would not apply if the person who receives the benefit is in a legitimate living arrangement with a person who provides sexual services, such as a spouse, child, or roommate; if a person receives the benefit as a result of an obligation owed to them, such as where financial support is provided to a disabled parent or where a gift is purchased with the earnings of prostitution; and also if a person receives the benefit in return for goods or services offered on the same terms and conditions to the general public, such as an accountant, a taxi driver, or a security company that offers goods or services to anyone.

In addition to all of that, there is a specific exemption if a person receives the benefit in return for a service or good that is offered informally, such as babysitting or even protective services, as long as the benefit is proportionate to the value of the good or service the person performed and that they did not counsel or encourage prostitution. In short, an arm's-length relationship is required.

This is in the proposed new paragraph 286.2(4)(d) of the bill. It would provide for the sex workers, who my friend is concerned about, to hire a bodyguard on commercial terms to provide security in that safe place. That is why this bill stands on all four corners with the Bedford decision, in my view.

These exceptions reflect existing case law that carves out exceptions to the current living on the avails of prostitution offence. The legitimate living arrangement and the legal and moral obligation exceptions find their origin in the Ontario Court of Appeal's 1991 Grilo decision, which was cited as an authority on these issues by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford case. The exception related to goods and services offered to the general public originates in a line of cases, starting with the 1962 House of Lords decision in Shaw.

The exceptions respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's concern that existing laws do not permit those who sell their own sexual services to take safety measures, such as hiring bodyguards and drivers. However, as I have said, Bill C-36 would strike a careful balance. The exceptions I have just described would not apply if the person who receives the benefit uses violence, intimidation, or coercion; abuses a position of trust, power, or authority; or provides any intoxicating substances to assist or encourage the other person's prostitution.

As we know, that is very often the case. They find young girls who maybe have run away. There has been a problem at home. They find them, they give them alcohol, they give them drugs, they get them addicted. Then they are their slaves, and they put them out on the street to feed that filthy habit over and over again.

The bill would also criminalize where a person procures another person's prostitution or if the benefit is received in the context of a commercial enterprise that offers sexual services for sale, such as a strip club, a massage parlour, or an escort agency in which prostitution takes place. We know those types of businesses are often run by criminal organizations, such as gangs and the Mafia. That is the kind of behaviour we want to criminalize. It is not what the women who are exploited are doing, but the people who are actually exploiting them.

This approach would make it very clear that the exceptions to the material benefit offence would not be available if exploitative conduct commonly practised by pimps is involved. Such an approach responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's safety concerns while at the same time providing protection from the exploitation that involvement in prostitution generally always causes.

The Supreme Court of Canada's final concern was that persons who sell their own sexual services be able to take steps to negotiate safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places. Existing laws criminalize all public communications for the purpose of either purchasing or selling sexual services. The Supreme Court of Canada found that this offence prevented those who sell their own sexual services from being able to negotiate safer conditions for their transactions in public places.

On the other hand, Bill C-36 proposes, first, a new offence that would criminalize communicating in any place for the purpose of purchasing sexual services, and second, a separate offence that would criminalize communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services, but—and I have to emphasize this—only in public places where children could reasonably be expected to be present.

Prohibiting all communication associated with the purchasing of sexual services is justified by the new legislative objective of reducing demand for sexual exploitation. In short, purchasing sexual services constitutes exploitative conduct. Attempting to purchase by communicating for that purpose is equally problematic. Prohibiting communication for the purposes of selling sexual services in public places where children can reasonably be expected to be present, on the other hand, in my view strikes a careful, justified, and reasonable balance between the interests of two vulnerable groups: those who are exploited through prostitution, and children who may be exposed to the sale of sex as a commodity and to the dangers associated with prostitution, such as the presence of drugs, pimps, and persons associated with organized crime.

My colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, mentioned earlier that when she was a school teacher, there were pedophiles and pimps who hung around the schoolyard. They would approach young girls and try to entice them either to get in a car with the pedophile or to get into business with the pimp, and that is the kind of thing we are concerned about.

Bill C-36 does not prohibit persons who sell their own sexual services from communicating for that purpose in any public place other than when children could be harmed by exposure to prostitution.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada's Bedford ruling is clear that prostitution offences are intertwined, meaning that the offences impact on one another. Greater latitude in one measure, such as permitting prostitutes to obtain the assistance of security personnel, for example, might impact on the constitutionality of another measure, such as forbidding the nuisances associated with keeping a bawdy house.

The regulation of prostitution is a complex and delicate matter. I agree with the Supreme Court of Canada's conclusion that regulating prostitution is a complex and delicate matter. Bill C-36 recognizes this complex need by striking careful balances between sometimes competing interests.

In conclusion, the new legislation proposes an entirely new, made-in-Canada response to prostitution. It tackles the demand for prostitution to reduce its prevalence, thereby protecting those who are exploited through prostitution from the risk of violence caused by their involvement in it.

The new purchasing offence, together with modernized prostitution offences criminalizing third-party involvement in the prostitution of others, sends a clear message: prostitution is dangerous and exploitative and harms society itself. No parent would wish to see their children enter the world of abuse and exploitation that constitutes prostitution.

Legislative approaches that view prostitution as an exploitative practice that victimizes those who are subjected to it have recently received growing international support. I note that France's National Assembly passed a bill in December 2013 that would implement such an approach, and I understand that the bill is currently before France's Senate.

Ireland's parliamentary justice committee recommended implementation of this type of approach in June 2013. The European Parliament recently endorsed such an approach in February 2014, and a United Kingdom parliamentary report recommended this type of law reform in March 2014.

Canada is not alone in its concern about prostitution's harms. These harms are real and require concerted effort to address. The government is committed to working with its provincial and territorial colleagues who enforce criminal law toward ensuring that prostitution's harms are not left unchecked.

Enacting Bill C-36 is the first step toward addressing prostitution's harms. Accordingly, I encourage all members of this House to join me in support of it.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of questions, but I will save some for our work in committee.

I am not clear on how the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice interprets public places, so I would like him to clarify. For example, does he think that where Bill C-36 refers to an offence committed next to a school, that means only during school hours? Does this clause apply elsewhere in the bill to criminalize sex workers?

I asked the minister that question, but he never gave me an answer. Maybe that is because he does not know the answer. Maybe the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice knows. Can he define the expression “sexual services”? What does the bill mean by that?

Also, what about the new Bill C-13, which has just passed another stage without amendment, or rather with just a tiny, inconsequential one, even though we proposed 34 amendments? Could the provisions in Bill C-13, which give more powers to police officers, also apply in this context, with or without a warrant, if a person were advertising sexual services on the Internet? Would the Internet service provider also be guilty of a crime?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear, and I invite my hon. friend to read the legislation again, that there is a special exception for anyone who performs a service on a commercial basis for people who advertises their sexual services. That would include the Internet service provider and a website designer, so long as they were doing it on a commercial basis and were not exploiting by charging an unreasonably high amount. We know that pimps will charge $250 for the services of a prostitute. The pimp keeps $200 and the prostitute gets $50 or less. That is the kind of exploitative behaviour we are talking about.

On the other question, it is reasonably clear that it is where a person under the age of 18 is reasonably expected to be present. People have to turn their minds to this. When they go out on the street to offer themselves for sexual services to any person who comes along in a car or on foot, they will have to look around to see if there are any children there or consider whether there could be any children there. We have to balance the rights of the sex worker with the rights of children not to become entwined in this terrible practice. We are trying to reduce it, not encourage it. We are not trying to make it easier; we are just trying to make it safer.

I think police officers will use their discretion. Words like “reasonable expectation” are interpreted every day by the police under our Criminal Code, and they are interpreted by the courts. It will become clear very quickly over time as this legislation is enforced.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, does the parliamentary secretary accept that there is probably no one more vulnerable than someone under the age of 18 selling sex on the streets? If he accepts that this is the case, then would he also accept that someone who is under the age of 18 would always be in a place where someone under the age of 18 is reasonably expected to be? If he accepts that, then anyone who is under the age of 18 will always be subject to criminal prosecution for communication.

Was it the intention of the Conservatives to pick the most vulnerable people in our society, saying that they were following through on what the Supreme Court wanted them to do by giving them a criminal record?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as with anyone else, we hope it will not be the case that a person under 18 is unfortunately in this trade. We are criminalizing any kind of behaviour that forces people to get into it under the age of 18. Anybody who coerces a person under the age of 18 is guilty of a very serious offence. Any purchasers of the services of a person under 18 would not just get a fine; they would go to jail. They should think twice about trying to pick up that 18-year-old prostitute in the first place.

This would allow officers to take those vulnerable people into protective custody, introduce them to social workers, and get them off the street. We want them safely off the street.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like the parliamentary secretary to comment on the opposition to this on both sides of the spectrum. One side thinks it is not strong enough because it would decriminalize the prostitutes, while the other side thinks it is too strong because it would go so far as to criminalize the purchasers.

In regard to the people who are against decriminalizing the prostitute, if it is the case that the person being prostituted is not a victim and is one of the perhaps 10% of the cases of people who want to be prostitutes and feel fulfilled, would the parliamentary secretary say that since no one is being victimized, there is no need to criminalize them?

On the other hand, if they are being victimized, should it be that they would not be criminalized either, but that the purchasers should be criminalized because they are clearly exploiting someone?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is much debate on the other side about the percentage of people—mainly women, but also some young men and boys—who are in this trade. We know from many studies how exploitive and harmful it is to them. They are often beaten regularly by the pimps. They are made to become addicted to drugs. They are coerced in many other ways. We have to understand that any purchase of that sexual service is driving the demand for exploitive behaviour.

It might be the case one time out of ten. When a customer, a john—and I do not like that term, because I have a lot of good friends named John—goes out to find someone to fill this need, this requirement, he does not know whether the individual is a volunteer or someone being exploited. The important thing to note is that we are changing the law for the first time in Canadian history to criminalize all behaviours that exploit people who are trapped in this awful trade. This includes the purchasers, the pimps, the madams, the mafia that runs the brothel, the aboriginal gangs who traffic women into the business, and the people who traffic women from eastern Europe and other countries around the world. We do not want to see that happen in Canada.

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June 12th, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify a few things. First, nowhere in this bill did I see anything about the criminalization of prostitutes who are minors. Johns and pimps who exploit minors or adult men or women are criminalized, but prostitutes who are minors are not criminalized. I want to talk about this, but I have not seen it anywhere in here.

The bill talks about criminalization by summary conviction—not indictment—of prostitutes soliciting in public places in general, not just public places where minors might be present.

I think this is the most tenuous part of the bill because if immunity is being offered, it should apply to solicitation in public places as well. However, given that this would be addressed by summary conviction, not indictment, these people will not end up with a criminal record.

Is this a way to bring them into the health care system? That is my question.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has been a great advocate on behalf of the safety of exploited persons for many years. In fact, I think she is the author of a book on that issue.

The member is absolutely right. There is no criminalization of a person under the age of 18 who is in this business. What it seeks to do is criminalize the behaviour of those who would choose to procure people under the age of 18 into this trade and those who would purchase the services of people under the age of 18. We are trying to cut off the demand and supply at the same time, while protecting the community.

The member is right about her description of a summary conviction. Where there is a solicitation in a public place where children are present or could reasonably be expected to be present, that would be nothing more than a fine for the sex worker.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must inform the House I will be sharing my time with my colleague, friend and neighbour, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

In fact, this is legislation to regulate prostitution in our country. I am pleased to rise and speak to this issue because it is something that is of great concern to my riding. Prostitution exists in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. It think it is an important issue and one that is of great concern to many people in my riding. Some of those people have come to talk to me about it over the past few weeks.

To give some background on this, in December, the Supreme Court ruled on the provisions of the Criminal Code that prohibit keeping a common bawdy-house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

The Supreme Court found that these provisions were unconstitutional, as follows:

[The current statutes impose] dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky—but legal—activity from taking steps to protect themselves.

Currently, under our Criminal Code, prostitution is legal but there is no help for the prostitutes who engage in this line of work.

I want to address a number of things because the bill is very complex. We want to know what the government is doing to help sex workers. We all wish prostitution did not exist. However, it does exist because there are clients, people who provide their sexual services and people who exploit others for sexual purposes.

Last year, I participated in the study conducted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the bill introduced by my colleague from Ahuntsic. A police inspector from Montreal said something fairly shocking. He said that, in Montreal, you can order a woman like you can order pizza. That is the situation we are currently facing.

As legislators, we must consider why sexual services are so readily available in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and small towns. I think it is mainly because there are customers, but also because the women are very vulnerable. Our government does not help them very much.

Rather than taking an approach that marginalizes extremely vulnerable sex workers, we should be taking practical measures to improve their safety and help them get out of the sex trade, if they so desire.

We do not have statistics on the number of women who truly want to engage in this line of work. Earlier, a Conservative member said it was 10%, but we do not really have any idea what the actual number might be. In order to find out, we would have to allocate significant resources; provide financial support to these women; and offer them education, training and addiction treatment. There are many things we could do to help these women so that they do not get involved in the sex trade. Many women turn to prostitution because of poverty, whereas others do so to support an addiction. That is a fact.

According to the measures announced by the Conservatives in this bill, they are going to allocate $20 million to help women across Canada get out of the sex trade. I think it is a bit of a stretch for the government to say that it will be able to solve this problem and help women with $20 million. The government should be embarrassed about this announcement, which was made just a few weeks ago, on June 4.

That is one of the first things I want to talk about. There is prostitution in Lachine, close to my riding office. I once went up to one of these women to talk to her. As an MP, I believe I should speak to everyone.

This woman told me that she was doing this type of work because she has two children, that it pays more than other work and that, if she could, she would prefer to have another job, so she could have a better life. It is not necessarily a job that she likes, but as a poor, single mother with two children to raise, it is a simple way for her to make money quickly. That is unfortunate.

Our society could have decided to give her a good education, to help her, to provide support for her family and to establish community groups that would help her with workshops to raise her self-esteem. For example, in my riding, the organization La P'tite Maison de Saint-Pierre gives self-esteem workshops to women. That is the kind of community group we can support in order to keep women out of prostitution. When I hear that $20 million will be given out across Canada, I wonder what that will mean for my riding. That is not very much in the way of concrete help for these women. That is really unfortunate.

I would like to delve deeper into the bill and see what it does. The bill will create new offences related to prostitution, namely purchasing sexual services. That means that we are criminalizing the people who buy sexual services. Once again, that is an attack on female prostitutes or young men, because I am told that young men prostitute themselves as well.

Groups that study various models around the world say that criminalizing the purchase of sexual services scares women in some ways. Even though the Conservatives say that selling those services on the street corner will be prohibited, let us not kid ourselves; given the means made available to address the situation, there will still be women on street corners.

Let us assume that a woman is on the street corner and that a client pulls up in his car; obviously, she will not take the time to talk to the man or to look inside his car to make sure that there are no weapons or other items that could be dangerous for her.

Right now, when that happens, women certainly take the time to look inside to see whether there is a rope or something that could harm her or be dangerous for her. Under this bill, she will not do that. Clearly, she will quickly get in the car, which will be more dangerous for her.

In my view, this provision does not help sex workers. Given that this trade does exist, we need to ask ourselves what we can do for the health and safety of these workers. According to the Supreme Court decision, we must work to ensure the safety of these workers. Whether we like it or not, this is a legal activity in our system, and it must be regulated.

The bill makes changes that have to do with receiving a material benefit, advertising sexual services and communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in a public place where children can “reasonably” be expected to be present. I have a problem with the word “reasonably”. It seems inappropriate.

I want to name some people who support us because this bill does not respond to the Supreme Court's decision.

The NDP calls on the government to refer Bill C-36 to the Supreme Court. It must do more to help prostitutes get out of prostitution, for example, through education, prevention and social housing. All Canadians have the right to work without the threat of violence. This bill does not solve that problem.

Steve Sullivan, the former ombudsman for victims of crime, is one of the people who agrees with us. This very credible man said:

Back in December, everyone seemed to agree on one point: The law shouldn’t criminalize sex workers. This bill will do just that—if they communicate...in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present.

Emmett Macfarlane said:

These provisions are not only bad policy, but they undoubtedly raise the same set of concerns the Supreme Court addressed when striking down the old provisions last December.

It is important to understand that we need to send this bill to the Supreme Court so that it can rule on whether we will end up with the same problem. We would then have to wait another year for provisions that truly help women get out of this situation.

No one here can prove to me that the Conservatives are truly helping women in our country. I do not think that this bill is proof of that either.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:40 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a comment that was made earlier about the meaning of “reasonably expected to be present” with respect to persons under the age of 18.

First of all, this test does have a meaning in criminal law. It is used in the provision that authorizes courts to impose prohibition orders on child sex offenders. That is section 161 of the Criminal Code. The provision that authorizes the imposition of peace bonds on suspected child sex offenders is section 810.1 of the Criminal Code.

Whether a particular location constitutes a public place where children can reasonably be expected to be present is a factual determination made by a court. This approach affords courts the discretion to apply the tests reasonably in different contexts. The objective of this offence is to protect children from exposure to prostitution, which the government views as a harm in and of itself. It criminalizes communication for the purposes of selling sexual services in these narrow circumstances. Bill C-36 recognizes the different interests at play, which include the need to protect from exploitation those who sell their sexual services as well as the need to protect vulnerable children from prostitution's harm.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on that.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his question and comment. Perhaps he is right. I may feel that the wording is inappropriate, but perhaps it is used elsewhere. I would like to thank him for pointing that out.

In any event, I would like to continue with what I saying. I still find it odd. Of course, I do not want to see prostitutes next to a schoolyard. The hon. member used that example earlier, in his speech. There is a high school near my house, and I too would be concerned to see prostitutes or pimps there recruiting young people who are at the school.

This bill does not provide any tools and does not even attempt to determine why prostitution exists. I think that the main focus of our work here is to figure out what we can do so that prostitution no longer exists. We can regulate it and put all kinds of provisions in place, but we need to ask the fundamental question of what needs to be done so that there are fewer prostitutes in our country. We can criminalize them as much as we want, but that will not reduce the number of sex workers. That is what I think we should be focusing on, together. Many national groups in Canada would be willing to work with us to reach that goal. That is the direction we should be heading in.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:40 p.m.
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Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech.

I would invite her to look at most of the studies that have been done in Europe. We are incredibly lucky that, over there, people have already tried legalization and the so-called abolitionist Swedish system. The observation has been that, in the legalization system, there is a marked increase in prostitution, both in terms of the number of prostitutes and in terms of human trafficking. As for reducing the number of prostitutes, as the hon. member suggested, we can see that, in a system like Sweden's, there is a marked decrease in the number of prostitutes.

Where I tend to agree with my colleague is that criminalizing prostitutes in a public place, even by summary conviction, is problematic. I would like to make a slight clarification. Criminalization by summary conviction may involve a criminal record, but not automatically so. I wanted to clarify that. However, apart from that small element, that one subsection of the bill, I feel that we should all be working together in the same direction, but not towards legalization, because the legalization of prostitution is the legalization of violence against women.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Indeed, it is a question of safety. It can very easily be argued that the Swedish model of criminalization drives women into the shadows. It is easy for them to say that prostitution decreases. However, they do not know how many women there are, because they do not know where to find them. They join criminal groups, or they hide because it is prohibited.

I refuse to believe that by criminalizing prostitution, it will be easy to solve the problem and fewer women will get into prostitution.

We might also wonder if these women are safe now. If we move towards a legalization model, prevention is much easier. It is much easier to keep women safer. If we adopt a model focused on criminalization, we drive women into the shadows. Normally, I really like the work that my colleague does, but on this point, I do not agree with her. Criminalization is not necessarily the way to go if we want to keep women safer.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

In my speech, I will read excerpts from the unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court to provide some context for the decision and the government's response, which takes the form of the bill we are debating.

Last December, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that section 210, as well as paragraphs 212(1)(j) and 213(1)(c) of the Criminal Code—which prohibit people from keeping a bawdy-house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of engaging in prostitution—violate the charter, because they infringe upon the right of sex workers and the security of their person.

The court ruled that current laws impose:

...dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky—but legal—activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.

The court therefore asked the government to regulate prostitution “as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes”.

In addition, an article in today's edition of La Presse indicates that the government seems more interested in imposing a new repressive model than in eliminating the problems identified by the Supreme Court.

Is the Minister of Justice's Bill C-36 a thoughtful and sensible response to the Supreme Court decision in the Bedford case? It would appear not. Once again, the Conservatives are using the big stick approach rather than a nuanced one. I would even go so far as to say that they are using a snowplow to remove everything in their path.

Will this bill protect the health and safety of sex workers? I do not think so. Will the bill protect women and girls caught in a cycle of dependence, violence and victimization? I do not think so. Will this bill prevent women, girls and boys from getting caught up in prostitution? I do not think so. Will this bill help support programs to assist people who want to get out of this situation? I do not think so.

I do not think so because this bill does not focus on prevention, but rather on repression. It does not consider the complexity of human nature and the reality of the society we live in, a society where appearances and money are strong lures, to the detriment of human beings and helping each other.

This was mentioned yesterday in the Winnipeg Sun's editorial:

Like with other criminal activity, laws prohibiting it rarely eliminates the problem....

While we want the government to crack down on pimps, human traffickers and people preying on the truly vulnerable, there’s nothing to suggest this law will reduce the demand or increase protections for women.

This is a newspaper that I do not often quote, but it was quite revealing.

Last winter, I attended an information session organized by station 13 of the LaSalle police. Representatives from all the community organizations in greater southwest Montreal heard from two community officers with the multidisciplinary investigations and youth coordination unit of the Montreal police service.

These experienced police officers gave us a realistic and frank description of prostitution and pimping. They want to change people's thinking about prostitutes and, above all, suggest ways to help those prostitutes who want to get out of the business. The program that they have put in place, “Les survivantes” or “the survivors”, gives female victims of this vicious circle the means to break out of it.

They also said that the image of pimping was somewhat glorified in popular culture and could be appealing to individuals who decide that the sexual exploitation of others is an easy way to make money. In their presentation, they demonstrated that prostitution was not a choice for many, but rather a lack of choice.

In our opinion, this bill, introduced by the Minister of Justice, does not respond to the Supreme Court ruling regarding the safety and protection of prostitutes. By making successive cuts to programs to prevent violence against women, the Conservatives really dropped the ball when it comes to dealing with this problem. Their systematic refusal to move forward with a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women leads us to believe that they have a very limited understanding of prostitution and violence against women.

The NDP recognizes that real action needs to be taken right away to improve the safety of sex workers and help them to get out of the sex trade, if they are not there by choice. To that end, significant resources must be allocated to income support, education, training, poverty relief and substance abuse programs for these women. We need a government that works with them to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect and support women.

I would also like to point out that clauses 46 to 48 refer to an equally controversial bill that was criticized by the new Privacy Commissioner, and that is the bill on cyberbullying. We call on the government and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to go back to the drawing board and hold real consultations that take into account the opinions of a wide range of legal experts, stakeholder groups, the appropriate authorities and the main people involved, sex workers. The minister should also refer Bill C-36 to the Supreme Court to get its opinion on whether the bill honours the ruling in the Bedford case.

This government, as a legislator, must ensure that the bills introduced in the House are consistent with our Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What is more, the government has a moral responsibility to protect and ensure the safety of communities and workers, no matter what their occupation. We believe that the measures introduced and the announcements made by the Minister of Justice are inadequate and will not achieve the expected results.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, my colleague quoted some sex workers. I wonder if she has heard some of these quotes.

Earlier today, Katarina MacLeod, who was beaten, abused, and raped repeatedly from the age of five, forced into the sex trade when she got a little older, and then worked for 15 years in that business, said that first of all there is no safe place to carry on the sex business, and second, had Bill C-36, the government's new prostitution legislation, been around when she was in the business, there would be no more demand and no more supply

Had that bill been in place, maybe she would be less scarred today.

One of her colleagues, Timea Nagy, a native of Budapest, Hungary, came to Canada 14 years ago as a housekeeper. However, when she arrived, she was kidnapped and forced to work in Toronto's sex industry until, one day, she escaped. She is now a founder of an organization that helps victims of trafficking. She said:

I speak for the hundreds of children and girls I have met and talked to and rescued in the last 14 years who have been and continue to be raped, violated and exploited against their will.

She challenged the idea that prostitution is a profession. She called it “oppression 90% of the time”.

She, too supports Bill C-36. She said women deserve to be protected by this country.

Casandra Diamond, another former prostitute, who operated a brothel, said sex workers should feel safer because of this bill. She said:

I wish Bill C-36 had been in place for me when I needed it.

I wonder if the member would comment.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice keeps using the same examples.

I would like to remind him that the Criminal Code already has provisions on human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. What he is talking about is not part of the bill. Rape and other such offences are already covered by the Criminal Code. Bill C-36 should be a response to the Bedford decision on the safety of sex workers. The Criminal Code of Canada already covers what the hon. member provided as an example. The Criminal Code has the answers for the cases he just mentioned. It is in the Criminal Code and not in Bill C-36. That is not the purpose of the bill.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to pick up on what the parliamentary secretary was saying. I mentioned in my speech something that I have noticed many times when talking to people. There are those who strongly believe, with conviction, that the Swedish model is the way to go, while others believe that New Zealand's model, which is based on decriminalization, is the right choice. Neither of these models are perfect, even to those who defend them. Each group felt that their model was the best, but no one said that their model would get rid of prostitution completely.

However, I just heard the parliamentary secretary suggest that Bill